Home-Start Hertfordshire calls for vital funding to tackle mental health of new parents

Chief executive of Home-Start Hertfordshire Lara Norris. Picture: courtesy of Lara Norris.

Chief executive of Home-Start Hertfordshire Lara Norris. Picture: courtesy of Lara Norris. - Credit: Archant

A charity urgently needs funding to roll out a scheme which has been piloted and proved to successfully tackle mental health problems in new parents.

Lara Norris, chief executive of family support charity Home-Start Herts, said: “We have just finished a pilot in Stevenage, working with parents who are at risk of perinatal mental health problems, and we have seen an enormous impact.”

Perinatal mental health problems are those which occur during pregnancy or in the first year following the birth of a child, and affect up to 20 per cent of women.

Left untreated, they can have significant, long-lasting effects on the woman, and long-standing effects on children’s emotional, social and cognitive development.

Lara said: “We have been dealing with parents who have been identified as really high risk, providing support before and after the birth of a baby.

“In all cases we were able to get people to the appropriate service within days of the symptoms, whereas it can normally take months.

“We now need funding quite urgently because, without money, we can’t do it. We can support a family for six to nine months for £800.

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“There’s nothing of more value than that, but we have to raise 100 per cent of our income.

“Without the money, we are just not there, and this is the most cost effective way of supporting parents.

“We need to have a concentrated effort on prevention of mental health problems now and that will have a big impact on generation after generation.” Lara and the Home-Start Herts team believe early intervention – support within the first 1001 days of a child’s life – makes the greatest impact on the life chances of a child.

The Government is currently asking people for their views on a green paper – Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision – and is proposing new community-based mental health support teams, every school and college to appoint a designated lead for mental health, and a pilot of a four-week waiting time for NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in some areas.

Lara is calling for the paper to include a strategy for early intervention, and for CAMHS funding to be ring-fenced for this initiative.

To have your say, visit www.engage.dh.gov.uk/youngmentalhealth before the consultation closes Friday.