Category Archives: Mental Health

Making a case for the integration of mental health screening into HIV care

Source: Journal of Interpersonal Violence

Screening for Traumatic Experiences and Mental Health Distress Among Women in HIV Care in Cape Town, South Africa

“Traumatic events can negatively affect clinical outcomes among HIV positive women, particularly when those events result in ongoing psychological distress. Consequently, there have been calls to integrate screening and treatment of traumatic experiences and associated mental health disorders into HIV care. In South Africa, screening for traumatic experiences and mental health is not a routine part of HIV care. […]

Participants [of this study] almost unanimously agreed that it would be appropriate and acceptable to screen all women in the clinic setting for trauma and mental health symptoms. […]

The high prevalence of traumatic experiences and psychological distress in this study highlights an urgent need to integrate screening into routine HIV care. The study provides evidence of the acceptability of screening for trauma and mental health symptoms among HIV positive women, at the critical points of care engagement when they are initiating ART or have defaulted on ART. In addition, there is need to link women screened to interventions and services, as part of trauma informed HIV care.”

Full text available on Sage Journals

 

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

Violence against Women during and after pregnancy

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.

Suicidal thoughts during pregnancy

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

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

Psychological Treatments for the World: Lessons from Low- and Middle-Income Countries

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/

Mental health and new care models – The King’s Fund lessons from the vanguards

Emerging evidence suggests that integrated approaches to mental health can help to support improved performance across the wider health system.

Key findings

  • Knowledge and skills around psychology and mental health are important features of integrated care, whatever the client group.
  • Despite this, the level of priority given to mental health in the development of new models of care has not always been sufficiently high.
  • Some areas report that new models of care have made it easier for local professionals to obtain informal advice from mental health professionals without making a referral, creating a more seamless experience for patients.
  • Working closely with voluntary sector organisations has allowed integrated care teams in some vanguard sites to better support the mental health and wellbeing of people with complex needs.

Policy implications

  • Testing the mental health components of existing vanguard sites must be a central part of the evaluation strategy for the new care models.
  • Other local areas rolling out multispecialty community providers, primary and acute care systems and related care models should go further than the vanguard sites in four key areas:
    • complex needs: enabling local integrated care teams to draw on and incorporate mental health expertise to support people with complex care needs
    • long-term care: equipping primary care teams to address the wide range of mental health needs in general practice (including among people presenting primarily with physical symptoms)
    • urgent care: strengthening mental health support for people using A&E departments and other forms of emergency care
    • whole-population health: placing greater emphasis on promoting positive mental wellbeing in the population, in particular among children and young people, and during and after pregnancy.
  • All sustainability and transformation plans should set out ambitious but credible plans for improving mental health and integrating mental health into new models of care.

Source: The King’s Fund

Breaking the link between gender-based and intimate partner violence and HIV

Intimate partner violence (IPV) during or before pregnancy is associated with many adverse health outcomes.

Pregnancy-related complications or poor infant health outcomes can arise from direct trauma as well as physiological effects of stress, both of which impact maternal health and fetal growth and development.

Antenatal care can be a key entry point within the health system for many women, particularly in low-resource settings. Interventions to identify violence during pregnancy and offer women support and counselling may reduce the occurrence of violence and mitigate its consequences.

This research will provide much-needed evidence on whether a short counselling intervention delivered by nurses is efficacious and feasible in low-resource settings that have a high prevalence of IPV and HIV.

Source: BMC Health Services ResearchBMC series

Follow the project: BioMed Central

Alcohol and other substance use during pregnancy

Alcohol and other drugs (AOD) use among pregnant women is associated with poor health outcomes for mothers and children.

Research has found that South Africa has one of the highest prevalence rates for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in the world. Alcohol, crack/cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine are the most abused substances in South Africa, with alcohol abuse being the most significant problem.

Maternal mental distress and AOD use in pregnancy often result in a cycle of dependency.

BUT, there are new the cross-cutting approaches that can maximize engagement and positive outcomes while mitigating potential harms.


Mothers who take alcohol and other substances during pregnancy often don’t attend antenatal clinic because they fear judgement by healthcare workers.  If a mother does attend it’s important to keep her in the system by making a special effort to create a positive relationship with her, through empathic communication.  You can encourage her to return to the clinic more frequently than other mothers, affirm the things she is doing well and help her to make informed choices.  

Healthcare workers are better able to mitigate harm if the mother is retained in the system!

For more information see our Issue Brief on Alcohol and other drug use in pregnancy

 

 

[#WMMHday Blog Series #4] “Falling Over the Edge”

This post is crossposted on the WMMHday campaign site by  Liz Shane

In the summer of 2013, my life was going great. I’d married my high-school sweetheart two years earlier and we had just moved into to an amazing rental house with our dog. It seemed like the perfect time to expand our family and I soon became pregnant with our first child. While I was initially ecstatic about the pregnancy, several weeks later, I started experiencing some very troubling symptoms.

I had a history of episodic anxiety and depression, usually centered around major life transitions, but this was something far beyond anything I had experienced in the past. I remember sitting in my office one day when I started to feel completely and utterly terrified, even though nothing was objectively wrong. I felt like crying all the time, could not focus on my work, and there was nothing that anyone could say or do to alleviate my anxiety. […]

Source: Falling Over the Edge – WMMH Day

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