How to Treat Maternal Depression in Rural Ghana

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By: Philomina Amofah, Project Coordinator, National Catholic Health Service of Ghana

Until recently, the health system in Ghana had been quite silent on maternal depression, which had a number of consequences on maternal and newborn outcomes. To address this need, The National Catholic Health Service, with funds from Grand Challenge Canada, rolled out a quality improvement project to reduce the treatment gap for perinatal depression in seven facilities in four regions in Ghana to improve early identification and treatment of maternally depressed women… read more

Addressing Maternal Mental Health Through the Antenatal Platform: A Missed Opportunity

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By: Alexis D. Palfreyman, MPhil/PhD Candidate, London School of Economics and Political Science

Across most settings, and particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), antenatal care (ANC) is a critically missed opportunity to identify and support women with common mental health problems. ANC attendance in many LMICs is high and increasing and is one of the few junctures in a woman’s life where accessing health services is likely and may also be the first time she connects to the formal health system. From a practical perspective, introducing mental health screening and psychosocial interventions through ANC would allow more women to receive the screening, diagnosis and treatment they need, since postpartum care reaches only half the number of women that ANC does… read more

The Importance of Listening to Women

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By: Alyssa Ham, ; Deborah Billings, PhD; Filipa deCastro, PhD; Jean Marie Simms Place, PhD

Medical systems have historically devalued women’s experience with illness, often resulting in diagnoses and treatments that are not appropriate or relevant for women’s lives. Postpartum depression is no exception. One way to design more responsive health services is to thoughtfully listen to the experiences of women who are in a position to offer deep information about their disorder. We know that in Mexico, just under 20% of women experience depressive symptoms within the first five years of giving birth. What do the women themselves have to say about their experience of postpartum depression? What words do they use to talk about it? What are the problems it causes for them and what are their strategies for recovery? This is what we wanted to know and so we set out to listen to women… read more

Why Maternal Mental Health Matters: A Case for Early Childhood Development

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By: Aisha K Yousafzai, Aga Khan University, Pakistan

Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) programmes frequently depend upon the capacity of the primary caregiver, more often than not, the mother, to provide optimal care for her young child. Increasingly, early childhood strategies recognize the importance of addressing the caregiving context, both challenges and enablers, which influence the quality of care that a mother provides for her young child. These factors conspire to moderate the emotional availability a mother has to respond to her young child’s needs as well as the availability of resources she has to invest in herself and her child… read more

Swept Under the Carpet: The Psychological Side of Maternal Health

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By: Carley Chavara, Intern, Environmental Change and Security Program, The Wilson Center

In high-income countries, as many as 10 to 15 percent of women experience depression, anxiety, or other non-psychotic mental health challenges during pregnancy or the year after giving birth. In developing countries, the chances rise to 16 percent of pregnant women and 20 percent of post-natal women, according to Jane Fisher, professor of women’s health at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Despite the prevalence of these so-called perinatal common mental health disorders (PCMDs), they remain extremely underreported and undertreated. “We have a huge problem that has been kept under the carpet and it is just beginning to emerge,” said Dr. Ricardo Araya of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at the Wilson Center on April 9… read more

Call for Posts: Launch of “Mental Health: The Missing Piece in Maternal Health” Series

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By: Katie Millar, Technical Writer, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

To explore knowledge gaps and current and past successful approaches in maternal mental health, The Maternal Health Task Force at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Mental Health Innovation Network at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Dr. Jane Fisher of Monash University are hosting the blog series, “Mental health: the missing piece in maternal health.” This blog series will bring light to a myriad issues that encompass maternal mental health: from determinants of mental health disorders and the importance of measurement to maternal mental health’s relationship with gender equality, child development and family dynamics. We invite you to participate in the series by contributing a post and following the series… read more