The importance of parental mental health as a determinant of infant and child outcomes is increasingly acknowledged. Yet, there is limited information regarding paternal mental health during the perinatal period. The aim of this review is to summarise existing clinical research regarding paternal mental health in the perinatal period in various contexts, and its possible impact on infant development.
Men are at increased risk of mental health problems during the transition to fatherhood, as well as during the perinatal period. Paternal mental health during the perinatal period has been shown to impact on their child’s emotional and behavioural development. However, research addressing the needs of fathers with mental illness and the impact of their illness on their infant and family has been limited.
A paradigm shift is required, from a focus on women following childbirth and women with pre-existing psychiatric disorders to a broader family perspective with the focus firmly on parent-infant relationships. This paradigm shift needs to involve greater research into the fathering role and paternal mental illness during the perinatal period, including further studies into risk factors, impact on the family system, and the most appropriate form of intervention and service provision.
The full research review is available on Wiley Online Library
In our resource library, you can find information for future fathers in four different languages
There is growing awareness that HIV/AIDS affected and infected adolescents may be at increased risk of mental health problems and distress. Depression and anxiety are associated with treatment non-compliance, which can have a significant impact on health status.
Moreover, HIV positive adolescents’ support structures can be weakened by challenging home environments and stigma in the community.
The goal of Khuluma is to provide psychosocial support for HIV positive adolescents in South Africa using mobile technology.
Read more about the the Khuluma model on the Mental Health Innovation Network pages.
Maternal depression has a number of negative consequences for the woman herself.
These include loss of functioning (inability to perform everyday tasks or social roles), loss of interest in self-care and child care, behaviour that affects other health conditions (for example, poor adherence to antiretroviral treatment for HIV), and risk of suicide or self-harm.
A global systematic review reports that between 5 per cent and 14 per cent of women report suicide ideation during pregnancy or the postnatal period (Lindahl, Pearson and Colpe, 2005). Most suicides happen in the postnatal period (Gentile, 2011) and the presence of perinatal depression predicts suicide (Lindahl, Pearson and Colpe, 2005). Suicide now surpasses maternal mortality as the leading cause of death in girls aged 15-19 years, globally (Petroni, Patel and Patton, 2015).
In this installment of the Health & Education Advice & Resource Team’s (HEART) Reading Pack series, professor Crick Lund summarizes the state of knowledge about maternal depression across cultures.
Screening is the entry point to mental health care.
We recently produced an advisory for primary level screening of mothers for depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation and behaviour in South Africa.
When health providers are not necessarily skilled in other forms of detection and when disorders are not clinically obvious, brief screening is a critical step towards providing mental health support for vulnerable women.
Read the recommendations on our website.
Another recent study found that women who underwent regular maternal depression screening are more likely to avail of mental healthcare services before, during and after pregnancy.
Read this related article Maternal Depression Screening Is Causing More Women To Avail Of Mental Healthcare Services
in the Parent Herald
On the occasion of the first International Fathers Mental Health Day, 20 June, Wessel Van Den Berg (Sonke Gender Justice) reflects on celebrating the unpaid care work mothers do, and how to encourage the dads who are already sharing the care.
“The recently released 2015 General Household Survey revealed a mixed bag for our children. There was a commendable increase in the number of five-year-olds enrolled in school, but at home the picture isn’t so rosy.
According to the survey, 63% of fathers do not live at home with their biological children. This number has remained more or less the same for the past decade. The fact is that there is a massive gap in father’s presence in children’s lives. And this is a problem.
The most obvious is that this may indicate less financial support provided by fathers to families. But there’s another reason fathers should be encouraged to be present and active in their children’s lives. It allows women and girls to achieve their full potential. That’s right: women and girls.”
Psychological trauma, associated with political conflict, displacement, violence, loss of loved ones, torture, rape, dispossession and poverty contribute to poorer general maternal health. Discrimination and xenophobia can further exacerbate existing traumas and mental anguish. Cultural norms surrounding pregnancy and the lack of family and other support structures at this vulnerable time contributes to social isolation, exclusion and psychological distress.
“Loneliness, loss of identity, poverty and trauma are the main stressors that we see. Many refugee women have no one to talk to, and pregnancy makes them more vulnerable.” Charlotte Mande-Ilunga, counsellor PMHP
The Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP) has found that refugee status is a key factor contributing to mental illness in pregnant women.
Read more on our findings in this Issue Brief.
According to the latest report by The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) a record 65.3 million people were uprooted worldwide last year, many of them fleeing wars only to face walls, tougher laws and xenophobia as they reach borders.
In South Africa more than a million asylum seekers are waiting for their applications to be processed at the end of 2015 – the highest number in the world.
Essentials of Global Mental Health
“Global Mental Health is a newcomer to the global health movement”
Dr Samuel O. Okpaku is giving an insight into the global mental health movement in this video
We are proud to have contributed to this great book (check out chapter 19 on our website)
About the book
Mental illness accounts directly for 14% of the global burden of disease and significantly more indirectly, and recent reports recognise the need to expand and improve mental health delivery on a global basis, especially in low and middle income countries.
This text defines an approach to mental healthcare focused on the provision of evidence-based, cost-effective treatments, founded on the principles of sharing the best information about common problems and achieving international equity in coverage, options and outcomes. The coverage spans a diverse range of topics and defines five priority areas for the field. These embrace the domains of global advocacy, systems of development, research progress, capacity building, and monitoring.
The book concludes by defining the steps to achieving equality of care globally. This is essential reading for policy makers, administrators, economists and mental health care professionals, and those from the allied professions of sociology, anthropology, international politics and foreign policy.
Mental health leaders and advocates gathered in Geneva, Switzerland this past week as the “Preventing Suicide, A Global Imperative“ report was publicly released by the World Health Organization (WHO) after the WHO launched implementation discussions of the Global Mental Health Action Plan adopted by the United Nations 66th assembly last year. Today, leaders join together under a new group #FundaMentalSDG to advocate adding clear, measurable mental health targets to the United Nations Post Millennium 2015 development goals currently in development and about to be negotiated by UN member states, following the UN High-level Stocktaking Event on the Post-2015 Development Agenda in New York on 11 – 12 September 2014.
According to the report by WHO, suicide is preventable, mental health disorders are treatable, and yet because we don’t significantly address it we lose over 800,000 lives annually, it is the second leading cause of death globally for youth ages 15-29, and is estimated to cost the United States alone over 100 billion dollars every year. #FundaMentalSDG invites other organizations, institutions, and world leaders to unite by collectively asking the United Nations to include a specific mental health target and two indicators in this critical post-millennium agenda.
The #FundaMentalSDG group was developed as world leaders agree we must take a collaborative, multi-sectoral approach in elevating the work done in mental health. Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance abuse, states in the Global Suicide Report: “This report, the first WHO publication of its kind, presents a comprehensive overview of suicide, suicide attempts and successful suicide prevention efforts worldwide. We know what works. Now is the time to act”.
The July 19th 2014 United Nations draft of the Post-Millennium Goals includes an overall Health Goal: ‘Proposed goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’. A recent Editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) by Professors Graham Thornicroft and Vikram Patel, of King’s College London and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine respectively, calls upon colleagues worldwide to include within this Health Goal the following specific mental illness target:
‘The provision of mental and physical health and social care services for people with mental disorders, in parity with resources for services addressing physical health.’
They also propose that this is directly supported by 2 indicators related to the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020, adding that it is very difficult to achieve results without specific measurements:
- ‘To ensure that service coverage for people with severe mental disorders in each country will have increased to at least 20% by 2020 (including a community orientated package of interventions for people with psychosis; bipolar affective disorder; or moderate-severe depression).’
- ‘To increase the amount invested in mental health (as a % of total health budget) by 100% by 2020 in each low and middle income country’
According to Thornicroft and Patel’s article in the BMJ, there is compelling evidence to show that improved global mental health is a necessity for overall human and societal development. For example, “poorer mental health is a precursor to reduced resilience to conflict,” and not only that, “it is also a barrier to achieving the suggested goal for promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all, building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”
In a Policy Brief produced by #FundaMentalSDG entitled “Call to Action: The Need to Include Mental Health Target and Indicators in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals”, it reviews the high prevalence of mental illness (1 in four people experience mental illness in their lifetime), the global emergency mental illness is causing insofar as human rights violations, stigma and discrimination, and the fact that mental illness can reduce lifespan by 20 years. Further, the brief points out that in low and middle income countries, up to 98 percent of people with mental health problems do not receive any treatment, as evidenced research proofs. Mental health has impact across the whole range of SDGs, and thus can be seen as a cross cutting issue.
#FundaMentalSDG is an initiative which aims to include a specific mental health target in the post-2015 SDG agenda. The initiative is committed to the principle that there can be no health without mental health, and no sustainable development without including mental health into the post-2015 SDG agenda. The #FundaMentalSDG initiative is led by the #FundaMentalSDG Steering Group, composed of leaders in the field of global mental health, drawn from a wide range of service user, caregiver, advocacy, policy, service delivery and research organizations.
To support the initiative, visit www.fundamentalsdg.org/show-your-support and take action today.
For more information, see