Category Archives: Maternal Mental Health
On World Mental Health Day many have thought about mental health status in their countries and the treatment gaps all over the world.
Our blog focuses on articles and statistics around mental health care and in particular around maternal mental health care globally and in low- and middle-income countries.
“Mental health matters because it affects everyone”
“Around 30% of women in low-income countries and 10-15% in high-income countries have a significant mental health problem during pregnancy and after childbirth. And yet most of these women never get diagnosed or receive any treatment” Maternal Mental Health-Global Challenge
“South Africa needs sustainable solutions to deal with its mental health treatment gap, delegates heard at a roundtable discussion ahead of World Mental Health Day (WMHD) – “Economy, Equality and Access to Mental Health Services” Close the mental health treatment gap
“The mental health of pregnant women can be affected by a range of factors, including partner violence and unemployment. But one of the key drivers that adversely affect a pregnant woman’s mental health is food insecurity. Being food insecure is when someone doesn’t have food or has the wrong kinds of food.” How hunger affects the mental health of pregnant mothers
Image: Robin Hammond
“Lack of food security is driving depression, anxiety and suicidal behaviour in poor communities” How hunger erodes mental health
“From OCD to suicide and depression, these numbers will alarm you.” (South Africa focus) 10 Mental Health stats South Africa
“South African children may be affected by a myriad of traumas. According to the South African Journal of Psychiatry, children and adolescents can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being exposed to a range of traumatic events.” Here’s how the Sesame Street’s Muppets help kids
“Crisis issue needs to be priority among developing nations” Mental health treatment a human right
“World Mental Health Day: the need for conversations on the subject in India is as strong as ever, because despite a start, not enough of them are taking place.” A poignant series of films relates the stories of people who fought and won
Sick link between hunger and mental health – linking food insecurity and mental health.
“Future actions should focus on better identification of people in vulnerable situations who may require specific support including people experiencing mental distress, early intervention and culturally appropriate mental health training for all frontline staff.” Mental health is not the problem, it’s the solution
“Children whose mothers are depressed during pregnancy have a small increased risk of depression in adulthood, according to a UK study.” Depression risk ‘starts in the womb’
“What more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.” Making mental health a cultural priority
“Mental health needs a new narrative. citiesRISE is a global platform committed to transforming the state of mental health policy and practice in cities and beyond to meet the mental health needs of populations across the world.” citiesRISE new website
Perinatal depression and anxiety are serious mental health problems and are among the leading causes of maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide!
Pregnant women are at higher risk for suicidal ideation and behaviours compared to the general population.
Suicide has been identified as one of the major contributors to the global mortality burden and there is a growing concern over the increase in suicidal ideation and behaviour among pregnant women.
Studies in low- and middle-income countries put the rate of maternal death due to suicide at somewhere between 0.65% and 3.55%. In such cases, risk factors include poverty, lack of support, lack of trust in health systems and coexisting mental illnesses.
Suicidal thoughts experienced during pregnancy can continue beyond the initial postpartum period, affecting the well-being of both mother and child.
More about pregnancy and suicidal ideation in our infographic
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are currently 24.5 million refugees and asylum-seekers in the world (UNHCR 2015).
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. Mental health among refugees is increasingly being discussed and researchers acknowledge:
Refugees are a vulnerable people.
We have found that uncertain refugee status is a key factor contributing to mental illness in pregnant women. Women with uncertain refugee status are particularly vulnerable to maternal mental illness. Psychological trauma, associated with political conflict, displacement, violence, loss of loved ones, torture, rape and poverty contribute to poorer general maternal health.
For more information see our Issue Brief and for a quick visual overview see our infographic below.
How hunger affects the mental health of pregnant mothers
2 out of every 10 South African families run out of money to buy food before the end of the month. Living in poverty is one of the factors increasing the risk of maternal mental illness. Find out why we believe, decreasing food insecurity is likely to improve the mental health of mothers and consequently increases the chances for our next generation to thrive?
This and more in our latest newsletter
In response to Daily Maverick article: “Antidepressants during pregnancy linked to autism in kids: study”
We would like to take the opportunity to raise caution with regard to the article published in The Daily Maverick titled “Antidepressants during pregnancy linked to autism in kids: study” on 20 July 2017
“Single studies like this need to be interpreted with great caution. Risk does not mean an inevitable outcome. Furthermore, an association does not necessarily mean cause. An association may reflect a causal link between autism and severe depression or the association may reflect a causal link between the medication and autism.
The global evidence is increasingly showing that the risk of untreated depression or anxiety perinatally on the foetus and infant, are likely to outweigh the risks of antidepressants on offspring outcomes. Balancing the risks is an important part of the decision to treat with antidepressants or not. This decision needs to be individualized and made collaboratively, as part of the consultation between the woman and her practitioner.”
Dr Simone Honikman, Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP)
The article is published here
Further information on antidepressant use during pregnancy in our Issue Brief
Women are particularly vulnerable to domestic abuse during and after their pregnancy.
Protect yourself and your baby – help is available!
It is important to know what kinds of behaviour is considered domestic abuse – it is not only physical or sexual harm. Did you know that domestic abuse can happen between any persons sharing a household – not only at the hands of your partner?
Do you have a safety plan in place for you and your baby should anything go wrong?
Find out more about all this important information in our Violence against Women leaflet
Looking for more information for new mothers? Check out our resource pages.
Improved detection and treatment of perinatal depression can contribute to reduction in maternal mortality
New research from Ethiopia suggests that improved detection and treatment of antenatal depression has the potential to increase planned institutional delivery and reduce perinatal complications.
Thus contributing to a reduction in maternal morbidity and mortality as well as improved neonatal health.
Uptake of delivery and postnatal care remains low in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), where 99% of global maternal deaths take place. However, the potential impact of antenatal depression on the use of institutional delivery and postnatal care has seldom been examined. This study aimed to examine whether antenatal depressive symptoms are associated with the use of maternal health care services.
Read the full paper here
Find this and more latest research paper on our website:
Resources for researchers
The negative cycle of mental ill-health and poverty is particularly relevant for women and their infants during the perinatal period. During this time, major life transitions render women more vulnerable to mental illness from social, economic and gender-based perspectives.
Those with the most need for mental health support, have the least access. Overburdened maternal and mental health services have not been able to address adequately this significant unmet need. There have been limited attempts at a programmatic level, to integrate mental health care within maternal care services.
The perinatal period, where women are accessing health services for their obstetric care, presents a unique opportunity to intervene in the event of mental distress. Preventive work involving screening and counselling may have far-reaching impact for women, their offspring and future generations.
Mental health care is a notoriously neglected area – even more so in “healthy” pregnant and postnatal women. The focus on the physical to the detriment of the emotional is particularly felt now against the backdrop of HIV and AIDS. The public health service has been unable to address the mental health needs of women from poorer communities – neither within maternity services nor within mental health services. This is despite a wide body of evidence showing that distress in the mother may have long-lasting physical, cognitive and emotional effects on her children.
The PMHP aims to integrate mental health service routinely, within the primary maternal care environment.
Based at selected government MoU facilities in Cape Town, we offer counselling and support services focused on the emotional wellbeing of pregnant women with a strong focus on postnatal and clinical depression.
A recent systematic review and metanalysis reported that psychological treatments for common mental disorders in a range of primary care settings in LMIC, and delivered by non-specialist providers, had moderate to strong effects in reducing the burden of these disorders. Notably, 12 out of the 27 eligible randomized controlled trials took place in maternal or reproductive service settings.
A key finding relates to the analsysis of ‘nonspecific’ therapeutic elements, called ‘engagement elements’ which includes collaboration, empathy, active listening, normalization, Involving significant other/family. These elements predicted trial effectiveness independently of and comparably to specific elements, e.g. interpersonal, cognitive and behavioural (Singla et al. 2017). This provides critical support to PMHP’s hypothesis that maternity care staff may meaningfully employ empathic engagement skills to reduce the effects of common mental disorders in their clients.
Find this and more relevant research here: http://pmhp.za.org/resources/for-researchers/