Perinatal and Maternal Mental Health

Perinatal mental health (PMH) problems are those which occur during pregnancy or in the first year following the birth of a child. Perinatal mental illness affects up to 20% of new and expectant mums and covers a wide range of conditions, including anxiety, depression or more severe illness like post-partum psychosis, and without treatment can have a devastating effect on families.

Suicide is the second leading cause of maternal death and perinatal mental illness can also affect the health and wellbeing of infants and children. A sense of anxiety for new dads and/or partners is also common and fathers/partners can become depressed, particularly when the birthing parent suffers from perinatal mental health problems or where they feel unable to cope.

If left untreated, mental health issues can have significant and long-lasting effects on the woman, the child, and the wider family. Specialist PMH services provide care and treatment for women with complex mental health needs and support the developing relationship between parent and baby. They also offer women and birthing people with mental health needs advice for planning a pregnancy.

The NHS Five Year Forward View for Mental Health set out how people in England with moderate/complex to severe PMH difficulties should be able to access care and support in the community, and our work in West Yorkshire is part of that commitment. There is an access target that our services must work to and this continues to be a high priority for 2024/25.

NEW - West Yorkshire Maternal Mental Health service

The NHS Long Term Plan set out a commitment to develop and implement maternal mental health services (previously referred to Maternity Outreach clinics) for women experiencing moderate to severe of complex mental health difficulties directly arising from, or related to, their maternity experience. Within West Yorkshire, we are developing one service that will be available to all our five places. South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust is the lead provider for this service.

PATHs logo

This is a therapy led service for women and birthing people experiencing moderate to severe mental health symptoms in relation to Reproductive Trauma and Complex Grief from baby loss. Symptoms must be current and have been present for over 1 month and affect ability to function in daily life.


Developed with the NHS, DadPad© is described by its developers as “The Essential Guide for New Dads”. DadPad© assists health professionals to engage and build relationships with new dads and dads-to-be.

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It aims to give new dads and dads-to-be the knowledge and practical skills necessary to support themselves and their partner, so that babies get the best possible start in life. DadPad© provides dad with the practical skills and information that he needs, which helps him become more confident in his new role - to not only feel included and involved as a parent, but also to become an engaged and active co-parent alongside baby’s mum.

Now recommissioned until May 2025 and updated with a new Co-ParentPad booklet, DadPad©, offers two ways for people to find and use the information in it. The free mobile app West Yorkshire version was downloaded more than 700 times in Q4 2023, and more than 1400 downloads of the local area versions in the same period.

The app covers:

  • Topics - ‘useful advice on caring for your new baby as well as looking after yourself and the family’.
  • In my area - ‘Find the latest information, news and links for the services in your local area’.
  • My questions - ‘A place to save the questions you have about caring for your new baby’

A hard copy booklet is available from midwives and maternity services in trusts and some family hubs across West Yorkshire. The booklet /hardcopy is not area specific, however, it has been updated and the new copies have been distributed. The CoParentPad© is also now available in booklet form and both are available on request by emailing

These animations provide more information for professional and clinical colleagues about the DadPad© and about the Co-ParentPad or find out more and view DadPad video content on YouTube.

To download the DadPad app, scan the QR code to download on your Apple, Android, or Google device.

Scan this QR code.





Speak with a midwife

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Speak with a midwife about mental health and emotional wellbeing – this phase of the wider Speak with a Midwife campaign focuses on maternal mental health and emotional wellbeing, encouraging  people who are expecting a baby to get in touch with their midwife if they feel that their mental health is worsening, or their emotional wellbeing is not as good as it could be. The campaign uses social and media and press to get the message across.

Read more here.

Researchers from Born in Bradford and the Universities of Huddersfield and York have recently completed an in-depth study across five workstreams to understand the inequalities in identification and treatment of perinatal mental health (PMH) in order to develop recommendations and adaptations to address these inequalities.

This research was funded by West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, in collaboration with the Perinatal Mental Health Steering Group and took place across services within West Yorkshire. This report has helped to frame our focus on addressing inequalities. One of our areas of focus is to improve access and experience of services from our Gypsy and Traveller community. 

In the development of our West Yorkshire Maternal Mental Health Service (PATHS), we have taken an approach whereby inclusion is at the heart of our service design. As a result, an inclusion toolkit has been developed.

This is a summary of the report.

The five workstream reports are:

  1. Review of the evidence of inequalities in perinatal mental health
  2. Care pathways similarities and differences
  3. Data report
  4. Perinatal mental health inequalities views and experiences
  5. Recommendations from expert panels

Our work in the community


Leeds Community Perinatal Mental Health Service, Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust. Improving access, experience, and outcomes for women from ethnic minority communities.

As the Leeds Community Perinatal Mental Health (PMH) Service expands in line with the NHS Long Term Plan ambitions, it is focusing on reaching out to women from ethnic minority communities, to improve their access, experience, and wellbeing.

This includes piloting a role called a Clinical Engagement, Access and Inclusion Coordinator. Balvinder Dosanjh has been in post since 2020.

During this time Balvinder has raised awareness of perinatal mental health needs in culturally diverse communities, addressing cultural stigma, and improving access to the service for women from these communities. The work has included encouraging women who access care to share their experience though the following podcasts and blogs.

Farzana’s Blog

My Blog About Postnatal Psychosis

My Blog About Postnatal Depression

Postnatal Psychosis World Mental Health Day

Diverse Mums Group - Podcast

The service has carried out evaluation through interviews with 10 women. The next steps include engaging community elders and faith leaders.

Case study - Sadif's story

Sadif Najmi, who lives in the Roundhay area of Leeds, expected her sixth pregnancy to be a similar experience to her previous babies. It wasn’t until the later stages of her pregnancy that Sadif was faced with an unexpected period of anxiety and panic attacks. This is her story.

We are committed to making sure that all mothers receive equitable access to excellent perinatal mental health support services and information.  To help with this, we are using these short films in Punjabi, Mirpuri, Urdu, Gujarati, Slovakian and Dari produced by award-winning charity Acacia. Each film aims to raise awareness of perinatal mental health issues in a culturally appropriate way and explains how to seek help.


In November and December 2020, a series of engagement meetings was undertaken with women who represented the perinatal journey covering pre-pregnancy (all planning), pregnancy and the postnatal period. The aim of these consultations was to test potential messages and propositions and, through co-production, refine them to optimise engagement and impact of future communication campaigns relating to Perinatal Mental Health.

We recruited a mix of women from across West Yorkshire in terms of age, ethnicity, first time/non-first time mums and relationship status, all of whom had expressed some perinatal mental health (PNMH) concerns or anxieties and who had not engaged with any PNMH services. Due to the individual nature of each person and their experiences, the consultations were carried out as a one hour in-depth interview on a one-to-one basis using Zoom. You can read the report from the engagement here 

We ran an awareness campaign between July and October 2021 to encourage women who may be suffering from perinatal mental health problems, and the people who care about them and for them, to contact their GP for help and support. The campaign included advertisements on social media and signposting information to the GP, health visitor and midwifery services that can help.

The campaign had more than 11.5 million impressions, with people typically viewing the social media ad more than 13 times. 

You can read the final campaign evaluation report here. 

Perinetal Mental Health Social Media

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