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The Psychological Society of Ireland,
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Untreated perinatal and infant mental health difficulties cost billions and have long term social costs that adversely affect women and their families


Psychological Society of Ireland half day conference to explore the development and integration of perinatal and infant mental health services across Ireland


Dublin, June 13, 2016 - The Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Special Interest Group will hold an inaugural half day conference, Mind the Gap - Integrating Parents’ and Babies’ Mental Health into Practice, in Dublin on Friday June 17 at the UCD School of Psychology, from 10am to 1pm. The conference will examine the development and integration of perinatal and infant mental health services across Ireland. The PSI Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Special Interest Group (PIMHSIG) believes there is an urgent need to develop and implement psychological health services in the perinatal period and the early years and is calling for these services to be prioritised, in line with the current Programme for Government. Through this Programme, the Government has pledged to implement the National Maternity Strategy1 and has also stated the key to greater awareness of emotional health and well being is learned through early intervention2. While the Programme for Government suggests that early intervention should be included at primary and secondary level, the PSI PIMHSIG strongly believes that it should begin even earlier than this to be most effective, namely in the perinatal period (pre-conception to post birth) and early years (up to 5 years old).

Barbara Western, PSI member and PIMHSIG Communications and PR Officer, explains that: “It is verging on unethical to wait until a child is 5 or 6 years old before they, or their family, can access much needed psychological support and interventions.” Ms Western added that: “Research and international best practice in the area of perinatal and infant mental health strongly shows that the earlier the intervention, the better the long term outcomes of health and well being for women, children and their families. It is profoundly disturbing that there are currently no dedicated and integrated perinatal and infant mental health services across Ireland. This really must change.”

Perinatal and infant mental health difficulties are considered to be among the most preventable and treatable of all mental illnesses. The lack of appropriate services in Ireland means that women and their families are not being given access to timely interventions that provide significantly positive long term outcomes for their health and well being. Recent research from the UK estimates that the overall costs of untreated perinatal and infant mental health difficulties is over £8 billion GBP (€10.2 billion), with over 70% of these costs relating to adverse impacts on children. In addition to the financial costs of untreated perinatal and infant mental health difficulties, there are other far reaching social costs including:

  • ongoing intergenerational mental health difficulties;
  • marital and familial breakdown;
  • unemployment.


The PSI PIMHSIG seeks to address the lack of appropriate services in Ireland by promoting awareness of perinatal and infant psychology and to inform policy and service development at a national level. The inaugural conference on Friday June 17 will be an opportunity for those who have an interest in perinatal and infant mental health to contribute to raising awareness of this emerging area of the health services.

More information and registration for this half day conference can be found by clicking here.                                                                   




References:

1. A Programme for a Partnership Government, May 2016, page 57. Available by clicking here (last accessed June 2016);

 

2. A Programme for a Partnership Government, May 2016, page 65. Available by clicking here (last accessed June 2016).

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