How sad it is that Charlotte Bevan and her four day old baby girl have died. I don’t know what it is like where Charlotte lived, but it is shameful that in 40% of the country, specialist maternal mental illness services are not provided. This is when up to 20% of women develop a mental health problem either during pregnancy or in the year following delivery. And we know that in this period suicide is a leading cause of death for women.
Recent reports by The Centre for Mental Health and the Maternal Mental Health Alliance highlighted that perinatal mental illnesses are a major public health issue that must be taken seriously. Surely the plight of Charlotte, her baby, and the rest of the family shows the urgency. It is not always post-natal depression, there are other mental illnesses and conditions effecting mothers-to-be, and newly delivered mothers, that need the specialist care and treatment. Things can happen quite suddenly and unexpectedly, but whether the illness is mild or severe, the right help can lead to a full recovery. The reports identify that it would be far cheaper to bring perinatal mental health care up to the level recommended in national guidelines, than to spend billions over a lifetime of picking up the pieces of broken lives and families.
May Charlotte and her baby rest in peace, and may the consciences of the holders of the purse strings and planners be pricked.