Family Action

Looking at Family Action's service to support women at risk of developing mental illness during pregnancy



Family Action is a charity that works to tackle the most complex and difficult issues facing families today. One of their services supports women at risk of developing mental illness during pregnancy. The charity supports around 100 women a year through their Perinatal Support Service. Family Action wanted to compare the benefits of the service to its costs.


Pro Bono Economics (PBE) matched Family Action with experienced economists from the Department for Communities and Local Government. PBE provided expert oversight of the project to look at how much perinatal depression costs society each year and estimate the benefits of supporting individual women who suffer from this condition.


A previous Randomised Control Trial (RCT) found that 73% of women who were supported through perinatal depression recovered, compared to only 56% in a control group with no support. PBE volunteers estimated that Family Action’s service also increased wellbeing and reduced the use of health and social care services, as well as increasing chances of employment.


Cost to society of perinatal depression: £630 million per year

Financial benefits of Family Action’s service: around £2,430 for each woman receiving support, rising to £4,383 when wellbeing is considered. This may be higher still when the long term benefits for children are taken into account.

Volunteer View

Andrea Lee (now Department for Work and Pensions):

“Family Action know their services work, because they see the change in the women they help but we needed to put a ‘value’ on the impact that Family Action makes. Framing the women’s progress in monetary terms was a real breakthrough and very exciting."


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