Maternal mental health calls triple in two years

Phone calls to PlunketLine concerning maternal mental health have tripled in two years, but the number of women accessing care has gone down, National’s Mental Health & Suicide Prevention spokesperson Matt Doocey says.

“Despite Labour investing $1.9 billion to expand mental health services, we have seen a drop in women accessing care regarding maternal mental health challenges.

“New figures show a staggering 197 per cent increase in calls to PlunketLine. In the quarter beginning 1 October 2019, PlunketLine received 334 calls, but this had jumped to 992 by the same quarter in 2021.

“This is deeply concerning as data from the Ministry of Health shows that access to Perinatal and Infant Mental Health care is at a steady decline.

“Covid-related stress has caused postnatal and perinatal depression rates to soar, and maternal mental health services are struggling to keep up with demand.

“We should not see reduced access to services when $1.9 billion has been allocated to address these issues. Where has this money gone, and why has it not made a difference?

“This Government has entirely overlooked maternal mental health; even after a review into maternal mental health services, we are yet to see an up-to-date framework for this part of the sector.

“The solution to our mental health crisis is not throwing more money at it. The issue concerns leadership, creating a shared vision, and being accountable.

“This Government is great at making announcements but utterly incapable of delivering improved outcomes.”