In April 2020, the Government introduced six to eight-week postnatal checks after we shared the experiences of almost 1,800 women on mental health during their journey to parenthood.  

General practitioners in England have since been contractually obliged and paid to assess new mothers’ mental health and wellbeing, providing an opportunity for referral to specialist services and additional support. Crucially, the checks must take place separately from a postnatal check focused on the health of the baby.  

About our research 

We undertook the research between October and December of 2022 to find out to what extent mental health support has improved during and after pregnancy.   

Through this project, we sought to understand whether postnatal consultations are taking place and whether they provide mothers with a meaningful opportunity to discuss their mental health and access follow-up support from specialist services if needed.  

Unfortunately, our findings show that although most women are likely to be invited to a postnatal consultation, these are frequently carried out as a tick-box exercise, where mental health is not treated as a priority or not assessed at all. In the worst cases, GPs dismissed mothers’ struggles with mental health or brushed off their concerns as normal.  

Based on feedback from nearly 2,700 new mothers and birthing parents, this briefing delves deeper into their experiences of mental health support and makes five recommendations for NHS England and Integrated Care Systems. 


Left unchecked - why maternal mental health matters