Perinatal and early years

We are committed to improving the mental health of mothers, fathers, carers and infants throughout pregnancy and during the postnatal period. 

The 2018 to 2019 Programme for Government commitment to improving perinatal and infant mental health is supported by a significant investment over four years, which is being overseen and directed by the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board.

We are working with all health boards across Scotland to establish and expand specialist community perinatal mental health, infant mental health, and maternity and neonatal psychological interventions services.

We have:

  • invested over £2.5 million in Mother and Baby Units to increase staffing levels and improve the experience of care for women in need of intensive support 
  • worked with Boards across Scotland to develop specialist Community Perinatal Mental Health services to provide assessment and care for women with moderate to severe mental health illness
  • we have invested £8.2 million since 2019 in the development and implementation of these services to create help and support in every health board across Scotland
  • invested £4.7 million in Infant Mental Health through the implementation of integrated provision across Scotland and have functioning/recently launched services in nine health boards
  • launched the Mother and Baby Family Fund (MBUFF) in October 2020 to support those visiting their loved ones. The MBUFF allows partners/fathers/main carers to claim towards the cost of travel, food and accommodation when visiting the unit. This also applies for children under 16 during their visits
  • published the peer support in perinatal mental health action plan (2020-2023) in March 2021
  • launched the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Fund, run by Inspiring Scotland, in August 2020 to help third-sector organisations provide enhanced peer support, parenting support and perinatal counselling services to women, infants and their families during pregnancy and in the early stages of life
  • distributed over £2.8 million between December 2019 and March 2023 to successful organisations via the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Main Fund and Small Grants Fund

A directory of currently available perinatal and infant mental health third-sector support in Scotland is available on the Inspiring Scotland website.

In January 2023 we announced the extension of third sector funding until March 2024.

Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board

The Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board was set up in April 2019 to oversee a significant investment over four years into perinatal and infant mental health services across Scotland.

Infant Mental Health Implementation and Advisory Group

The Infant Mental Health Implementation and Advisory Group was established in October 2019 to lead on infant mental health and parent-infant relationship work streams of the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board.

Perinatal Mental Health Peer Support Action Plan updates

Since the publication of the Perinatal Mental Health Peer Support Action Plan on 18 March 2021, we have been progressing the actions within the plan. We have:

  • worked in partnership to produce the annual Perinatal Mental Health Peer Support events in February 2022 and March 2023 showcasing good practice and to recognise the contribution of peer support workers
  • provided funding through The Small Grants Fund in October 2021 - to support smaller organisations and groups who are working to provide effective and innovative service delivery within Perinatal and Infant Mental Health. This funding is part of our on-going third sector commitment in addition to the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health fund (PIMH fund), launched in 2020. This funding is extended to March 2024
  • provided funding through our PIMH fund to a range of organisations who provide specific peer support for fathers and partners

In addition to the work outlined above, we are actively progressing the following actions:

  • funding Peer Support Workers as core members of specialist Mother and Baby Units and supporting specialist community Perinatal Mental Health teams to include peer support as part of their core offering and evaluating this work
  • have developed role definitions for peer support workers
  • working with See Me to explore ways to actively promote, role model and highlight good practice around peer support, stigma reduction and raising awareness across Perinatal and Infant Mental Health
  • worked with Inspiring Scotland and Evaluation Support Scotland to co-produce an evaluation framework for perinatal peer support, together with charities in our third sector fund portfolios
  • considering peer support options within the context of Infant Mental Health
  • working with Scottish Recovery Network to publish a perinatal peer support resource - Let’s do peer support; Bump, Birth & Beyond

The next yearly update will be published in March 2024.

Supporting women, reducing harm (April 2022)

This event was held in April 2022 to review services for substance-using women and their infants in pregnancy and the postnatal periodOver 400 stakeholders came together to discuss how to improve the experience of women, infants and families who are affected by substance use during the perinatal period.

The event focussed on assessment, intervention and risk reduction for substance using women in pregnancy. It also covered the first postnatal year and infants exposed to substance use in utero or the first postnatal year, considering both universal and specialist services.

The event was held following on from the publication of the Supporting Women, Reducing Harm: Review of services for substance-using women and their infants in pregnancy and the postnatal period report. We will set up a Short Life Working Group to provide recommendations for future care and support. More details on this will follow.

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