Victoria Prentis MP has welcomed an additional £600m funding for mental health care, including talking therapies, perinatal mental health and crisis care. The funding, which was announced in yesterday’s Autumn Statement, follows a speech Victoria made in Westminster Hall to mark World Prematurity Day, in which she singled out mental health as one of the key areas for improvement.

In her Westminster Hall speech, Victoria highlighted that 40 per cent of mothers of premature babies are affected by postnatal depression soon after birth, compared to 5-10 per cent of mothers generally. She emphasised the need for access to counselling for both parents as well as, where necessary, siblings and grandparents. Victoria also said that it was “not acceptable” that on 41 per cent of neonatal units, parents have no access to a trained mental health worker. She spoke of the lack of access to suitable mental health professionals as “needlessly cruel” and highlighted the wider implications for the family, particularly when there is a strong correlation between marriage or relationship breakdown following the birth of a very sick baby. Before concluding, Victoria called on the Minister to ensure progress is made towards a joined-up approach to neonatal care.

Speaking after the Chancellor’s announcement in the Autumn Statement, Victoria said: “I was delighted to hear the Chancellor’s commitment to provide £600m funding to mental health care, including perinatal mental services. Dealing with bereavement or the birth of a very sick baby is an incredible strain on all family members. It is a travesty that so many families do not have access to mental health professionals when they really need it. This is a really positive step in the right direction. I look forward to finding out more about how the money will be spent. I am conscious, however, that there is still plenty more to do. I will continue to raise this issue with the Minister at every opportunity.