Benefits found of mental health interventions

A new report out this week from the The Personal Social Services Research Unit  within the London School of Economics has highlighted that mental health interventions in pregnant women and new mothers have benefits.

Funded from the Nursing Division under the Nursing Directorate at NHS England, the aim of the study was to examine the potential costs and some of the potential economic benefits of early interventions that prevent or reduce perinatal mental illness and their long-term impacts on mothers and their children.

The study included a comparison of the potential costs and consequences associated with such interventions compared with one or more alternative course of action (operationally defined as current practice, and sometimes referred to in studies as the ‘do nothing’ option).

The report set out to assess the interventions’ net benefit, first by weighing their costs and differences in service use between participants and control groups, against improved outcomes for mothers and children and health and social care savings. This health and social care net benefit was then reassessed from a governmental viewpoint, factoring in averted educational and criminal justice costs and, finally, from a wider societal perspective.

Annette Bauer, PSSRU Research Fellow and the lead researcher on the study, said: “Each of the interventions included in our economic analysis led to positive net benefits for pregnant women and also from a societal perspective”.

The study also highlights that interventions were best provided as part of collaborative care approaches that include screening and early identification, and that – in England – midwives and health visitors play an important role in this.

A full press release about the report can be found here which covers other benefits found, but also the limitations, such as:

  • Challenges in evaluating interventions around severe mental illness, given the ethical problems around setting up ‘control’ groups who effectively do not receive treatment;
  • The study’s focus on interventions that used mothers’ mental health as their primary outcome, to the exclusion of others that address related risk factors such as substance misuse or intimate partner violence;
  • Inconsistencies in the nature and depth of information available relating to each intervention;
  • The fact that RCTs were prioritised, meaning that other research types where results are harder to demonstrate were not considered.


Bauer A, Knapp M, Adelaja B (2016) Best Practice for Perinatal Mental Health Care: the Economic Case, Personal Social Services Research Unit, London.



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