Accessing mental health services

Do you find it hard to know where to refer women for perinatal mental health care?

In the UK, women may find it hard to locate and access perinatal mental health services. This paper reports a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative studies that have sought to understand what the barriers are to gaining treatment and support. Studies from 2007 to 2018 were identified via electronic databases and scrutinised.

Thirty-five studies were included in the analysis and barriers were identified at four levels.  Barriers at the individual level were poor awareness of services on the part of women and fear of stigma. At the organisational level, lack of resources and fragmented services were barriers. At the socio-cultural level, language and cultural barriers were significant, and at the structural level, lack of coherent policies was apparent.

The authors conclude that ‘complex, interlinking, multilevel barriers to accessing mental health services for women with perinatal mental illness exist, and that to improve access to care, multi-level strategies need to be adopted.

Read more: Sambrook Smith, M. et al. (2019) Barriers to accessing mental health services for women with perinatal mental illness: systematic review and meta-synthesis of qualitative studies in the UK. BMJ Open, 9:e024803.


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