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MumsAid: Evaluation of a perinatal counselling service

What is this research?

MumsAid is a charity operating in the London Borough of Greenwich. It provides free counselling for women experiencing mental or emotional difficulties in pregnancy or after having a baby, provided by trained counsellors and psychotherapists. The aim is to improve clients’ mental health, wellbeing, confidence in parenting, and the bond between mother and baby. McPin were commissioned by MumsAid to evaluate the service to see what impact it has had.

Why is it important?

It is estimated that between 15-20% of women are affected by depression and anxiety in the first year after childbirth, with postpartum psychosis affecting up to 0.2%. Despite the importance of early detection and management during pregnancy and in the postnatal period being acknowledged, good mental health support is not always available for mothers. The Maternal Mental Health Alliance and the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that 26% of NHS areas had no professional perinatal mental health services at all. For this reason, local services that provide support specialist maternal mental health, such as MumsAid, are of vital importance.

How is McPin involved?

McPin was commissioned to analyse the data that MumsAid had collected, to see whether women’s postnatal depression symptoms, stress levels, wellbeing, confidence and bonding changed after having the 12-weeks of counselling the service offers. Phone interviews were conducted to understand more about why the women sought help, their experience of the referral process and the service itself as well as their feelings at the end of the counselling.

How are people with experience of maternal mental health problems involved in the research?

The interviews were conducted, recorded, transcribed and analysed by a researcher who had personal experience of postnatal mental health problems.

What is the current status of the project?

The project is now finished. We found that MumsAid clients significantly improved in all outcomes after receiving counselling. These improvements were drastic – for example, almost two thirds of women improved enough that they no longer met the threshold for post-natal depression – and this appeared to be maintained three months later. We heard almost universally positive feedback from the women we interviewed including how important the service had been for them, and how specific support such as this is more effective than generic counselling.

“What MumsAid have done for me… I can’t even put it into words, really. I just wish that they could expand and spread so that every borough and community had a MumsAid”

You can download the full report here.

Read a blog by a researcher on the project here.

Who do I contact for more information?

If you have questions about MumsAid, please email info@mums-aid.org or visit www.mums-aid.org/.

Please contact Dan Robotham by email danrobotham@mcpin.org for more information about McPin’s involvement.