Research Shows 80% of Parents' Mental Health Suffered After Neonatal Experiences

Lucy Donoughue
By Lucy Donoughue,
updated on Jul 20, 2018

Research Shows 80% of Parents' Mental Health Suffered After Neonatal Experiences

New research published by Bliss shows experiences within a neonatal unit can significantly affect the mental health of parents

Bliss, a charity that supports parents with babies who were born sick or prematurely, has released the findings of a survey among of people who have experienced time on a neonatal unit with their newborns.

589 parents completed the survey. 80% of respondents whose babies were admitted into neonatal care stated that their mental health was impacted negatively by the experience, with 35% reporting that their mental health was 'significantly worse' after the experience.

Other findings included:

  • 23% of respondents had been diagnosed with anxiety after their nenonatal experience
  • 16% of parents were diagnosed with PTSD
  • 14% were diagnosed with postnatal depression after their time on the unit

When asked about mental health support, 62% of the parents who responded reported that there was no counselling or talking therapy available to them while their baby was on the unit. 45% of parents said that they had no access to formal psychological support after the experience.

While national standards for neonatal care across the UK state that all parents should have access to psychological and social support, Bliss' past research has shown that no nation in the UK is reaching the national standards.

The neonatal psychological care picture fluctuates greatly accross the UK. While 12 out of 13 units in Scotland have access to a trained mental health professional, five out of seven of Northern Ireland's neonatal units do not have dedicated access to a mental health care professional.

Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss said: "The shocking findings of our latest research demonstrates the vital need for better mental health support for parents whilst their baby is on the neonatal unit and beyond.

“At present, none of the UK nations is reaching the national standard for providing psychological support to parents on units and our research demonstrates how detrimental this can be to parents’ health and well-being. Bliss calls for every UK Government to ensure that mental health support is available to each parent who has a baby in neonatal care.

“Bliss is working hard to ensure parents receive the help they need whilst on the neonatal unit and beyond. We are currently producing new information for parents about mental health that will be available later this year. In the meantime, we continue to recruit and train volunteers who provide direct support to parents with babies in neonatal units across the country.”

To find talking therapy and counselling support in your area, visit Counselling Directory

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