Support Not Stigma: Redefining Perinatal Mental Health Care

23 May, 2024

Perinatal mental health is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of maternal care. The latest insights from The Lancet's article, "Support not stigma: redefining perinatal mental health care," highlight the urgent need for a paradigm shift in how we approach mental health for expecting and new mothers. This blog explores the key points from the article, advocating for better support systems and a more compassionate approach to perinatal mental health.


Perinatal mental health disorders affect one in five women during pregnancy and the postnatal period. Despite their prevalence, these conditions are frequently stigmatised, leading to underdiagnosis and inadequate treatment. The Lancet’s comprehensive analysis calls for a fundamental change in addressing perinatal mental health, emphasising the importance of support over stigma.

Understanding Perinatal Mental Health

  • Definition and Scope: Perinatal mental health encompasses a range of conditions, including depression, anxiety, and psychosis, occurring during pregnancy and up to a year post-birth.
  • Prevalence and Impact: These disorders affect approximately 20% of women, significantly impacting both maternal and infant well-being.

Challenges in Current Care Models

  • Stigma and Misconceptions: Many women avoid seeking help due to fear of judgment and misunderstanding about perinatal mental health.
  • Barriers to Access: Limited resources, inadequate training among healthcare professionals, and fragmented services hinder effective care delivery.

Proposed Solutions and Recommendations

  • Integrated Care Approach: Emphasises the need for coordinated care involving obstetricians, midwives, mental health professionals, and primary care providers.
  • Training and Education: Advocates for comprehensive training for all healthcare providers to recognise and address perinatal mental health issues effectively.
  • Public Awareness Campaigns: Calls for initiatives to educate the public, reducing stigma and encouraging women to seek help.

Supportive Policies and Programmes

  • Enhanced Screening and Early Intervention: Recommends routine mental health screenings during prenatal and postnatal visits to ensure early identification and treatment.
  • Accessible Mental Health Services: Stresses the importance of making mental health services readily available and affordable for all women.
  • Support Networks and Peer Support: Highlights the value of peer support groups and community networks in providing emotional and practical support.

The Role of Research and Innovation

  • Ongoing Research: Encourages further research into perinatal mental health to develop evidence-based treatments and interventions.
  • Innovative Solutions: Promotes the use of digital tools and telehealth services to reach more women and provide flexible support options.


Transforming perinatal mental health care requires a collective effort to destigmatise mental health issues and provide comprehensive, integrated support. By embracing the recommendations outlined by The Lancet, we can ensure better outcomes for mothers and their children, fostering healthier families and communities.

Read more: Support not stigma: redefining perinatal mental health care – The Lancet Regional Health – Europe

Read more: Mental Health Awareness Week 2024