Maternal Mental Health: A South African Story
Common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, that occur during pregnancy and in the year after childbirth are highly prevalent globally. In developing countries, the rates are much higher than in high-income settings. Women and girls who live in poverty and who experience violence are particularly vulnerable. In South Africa, about 1 in 3 women will experience depression or anxiety during or after their pregnancy.
Poor maternal mental health not only has adverse effects on mothers, but may negatively impact their children. Mental health problems in mothers is linked to maternal and infant mortality. Poor maternal mental health jeopardises the development of the foetus resulting in premature births and low birth weight infants. Social, behavioural and emotional development of children is also affected by the mental health of the mother. Many of these effects may be buffered by the presence of another supportive and well adult caregiver for the child. However, many mothers in resource-scarce settings are socially and emotionally isolated.
Read Carol’s full story on the Every Mother Counts blog.