Health Inequalities in Northern Ireland. The Impact of the Maternal Advocacy and Support (MAS) Project.

It is estimated that one in five women experience mental health issues during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth. Despite the prevalence of these issues, Northern Ireland lags significantly behind the rest of the United Kingdom in terms of providing the required services and support for mothers in the region. For example, Northern Ireland is currently the only devolved region of the United Kingdom without a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU).

The MAS project is led by WRDA, in partnership with Aware NI, and works with more than 200 women from across eight women’s centres in Northern Ireland to develop a network of peer support groups for those experiencing perinatal mental health issues. This research examines the impact of this project on maternal mental health in communities, in the absence of adequate statutory provision.

Primary research was conducted with participants of the MAS project in the form of an anonymous online survey and four focus groups. These focus groups included three in-person sessions in women’s centres and one online session on Zoom. There were 31 responses received to the anonymous online survey. The Researcher on this project was Aoife Mallon, Policy Assistant at WRDA.

The full research report can be accessed here and a summary briefing can be accessed here. For more information about this research, please contact For more information about the work of WRDA, please contact