Non Peer Reviewed
Postnatal Depression: What’s happening in Scotland?
Dr Laura Sharp <[email]>
Prof Beth Alder <[email]>
Postnatal depression affects between 10% and 15% of women following childbirth. This illness occurs at a critical time affecting the partner, the woman’s relationships, and the development of the infant. It is a significant factor in maternal mortality, but most importantly it is treatable. In recent years mental health following childbirth has established more prominence on the UK health agenda. In Scotland, national guidance (SIGN 60) has been developed to enhance the prevention, detection and management of mental illness occurring during the perinatal period. In response to these guidelines the National Audit of Postnatal Depression (NAPD) has developed a detailed profile of postnatal mental health services across Scotland.
NAPD examined the recommendations for practice made by all Scottish NHS Boards. A survey of representative general practices investigated how these recommendations for the treatment of postnatal mental illness were applied. All NHS Boards responded to a request for information on policy and 64% of 273 representative practices responded to a postal questionnaire.
NHS Board policy and national guidelines were not routinely implemented across Scotland. Despite recommendations, all health professionals did not undertake routine screening for postnatal depression. A minority of NHS Boards had the resources to allow patients to select their preferred psychosocial treatment. Further policy recommendations were made by NHS Boards and followed by practices that are not supported by an evidence base. As postnatal depression can be effectively treated, co-ordination of services is essential to reduce the high prevalence of postnatal depression and its subsequent effects.