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The Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP) addresses mental illness among pregnant and postnatal women and girls from disadvantaged communities affected by poverty, HIV/AIDS, violence, abuse, social exclusion and refugee status. These women have very little social support, and mental illness may compound their isolation.
Life changes around pregnancy make women more vulnerable to mental illness. The negative cycle of poverty and mental illness impact on a woman's ability to function and thrive. This can also directly affect her foetus or child, with long-lasting physical, cognitive and emotional outcomes.
Mental health care provides the necessary support to empower women to identify resources and personal capabilities. This can enhance their resilience to difficult life circumstances and support them to nurture their children optimally.
Caring for mothers is a positive intervention for long-term social development.
Recognising the enormous need for public maternal mental health services, the PMHP envisions universal access to quality mental health care, routinely integrated into maternity services, for all women.
To achieve this aim, the PMHP partners with the Department of Health and works with vulnerable women, civil society, international organisations and academic institutions to implement 4 interrelated programmes. These programs develop an innovative model for integrated mental health services and include:
We envision our role as an incubator, supporter and advocate for the development of good practice and scalable services for low-resource settings.
Therefore, our long-term strategy is to provide a package of proven tools and leverage partnerships with agencies capable of delivering this intervention to scale. The primary beneficiary is envisioned to be the Department of Health (DOH) and, through strategic partnerships, health ministries beyond our borders.
We are currently in the modeling phase, developing and testing service delivery elements and a maternal mental health screening tool.