The World Health Organization has warned that ignoring the decline in women’s mental health during the perinatal period threatens not only their overall health and well-being, but also affects the physical and emotional development of children.
According to the World Health Organization, among women who experience deteriorating mental health in the perinatal period, 20 percent of women will experience suicidal thoughts or self-harm.
The importance of including perinatal screening, diagnosis and management of mental health conditions in maternal and child health services within the nurturing care framework, WHO recommendations on maternal and newborn care for a positive postpartum experience and WHO guidelines were highlighted. Worldwide on Improving Early Childhood Growth.
Providing support to maternal and child health services
The new WHO guide to integrating perinatal mental health into maternal and child health services provides the best available information intended to support maternal and child health providers in identifying symptoms of mental health problems and responding in a manner appropriate to their local and cultural context.
The guide provides an evidence-based approach to planning and evaluating the impact of integrating perinatal mental health care into maternal and child health services.
Effective integration, for example, requires a core team responsible for inclusion supervision, situation analysis and needs assessment to determine a feasible package of interventions that address women’s perinatal needs, adequate training and supervision of the workforce for service delivery.
The World Health Organization reports that life-changing moments such as pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood can be stressful for women and their partners, and as a result, a woman may experience a period of mental health decline or a worsening of her previously deteriorating mental health.
Maternal and child health services during the perinatal period represent a unique opportunity to support women in a safe and stigma-free environment, leading to increased attendance and better participation in the care of women and their children and an increase in the well-being and advancement of the community.