Recent PRIME publications focus on perinatal mental disorders

1 Aug 2016 - 12:00

PRIME’s two most recent research publications deals with perinatal mental disorders – a common public health problem, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

In the most recent paper titled "Perinatal mental health care in a rural African district, Uganda: a qualitative study of barriers, facilitators and needs”, PRIME researchers investigated issues surrounding the delivery of mental health care to mothers struggling with perinatal mental health challenges.

The study aimed to “to explore the barriers and facilitators, as well as perceptions about the feasibility and acceptability of plans to deliver perinatal mental health care in primary care settings in a low income, rural district in Uganda.”

By discussing this question with six different focus groups – ranging from pregnant women and mothers to village healthcare providers – researchers found that respondents felt a strong need for perinatal mental health care in the district. Significant gaps in knowledge about mental health problems during and after pregnancy, negative attitudes amongst mothers and health care providers towards sufferers, poverty and inability to afford transport to services, poor partner support and stigma were thought to add to the difficulties of perinatal women accessing care.

The second study, “Maternal mental health in primary care in five low- and middle-income countries: a situational analysis,” looks at how to implement the advocated practice of integrating mental health care into primary care in the PRIME study countries. The study found that the provision of maternal mental health care is challenged by limited evidence on feasible detection and treatment strategies for maternal mental disorders, lack of mental health specialists in the public health sector, lack of prescribing guidelines for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and stigmatising attitudes among primary health care staff and the community.

In South Africa, one of the PRIME study countries, the 1st of August mark the beginning of women’s month – a perfect month to reflect on and advocate for improved maternal mental health care in primary care settings.

In the coming year PRIME will publish more results specifically pertaining to the health outcomes of pregnant and postnatal women receiving maternal mental health interventions.