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Spanish psychologists support World Maternal Mental Health Day May 4, 2016

2 May 2016

Psychological health disorders are present in one out of every five women during the perinatal period. The most frequent of these disorders are depression, anxiety disorders, postpartum psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder.

News - Spanish psychologists support World Maternal Mental Health Day May 4, 2016

 Spain: Communication on Maternal Mental Health

http://www.infocop.es/view_article.asp?id=6207 

Psychological health disorders are present in one out of every five women during the perinatal period. The most frequent of these disorders are depression, anxiety disorders, postpartum psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite these high figures, there are hardly any systematic primary or secondary prevention programs for these disorders, nor are there many professionals specialising in the perinatal psychological health of the mother in the healthcare system.

There is ample evidence that untreated psychological health problems are linked to an increased risk of obstetric and paediatric complications and can adversely affect both the mother-child relationship and the social and emotional development of the baby. These problems may have other side effects, causing long-term damage to the mother's self-esteem and increasing conflict within the couple and in family relationships. In the most serious cases, untreated psychological disorders can lead to suicide or infanticide. In this respect, the figures are shocking: almost a quarter of the deaths occurring between six weeks and one year after pregnancy are due to psychopathological problems, and suicide is considered to be a leading cause of maternal death during this period. Meanwhile, cases of infanticide, usually motivated by a desire to avoid further suffering to the baby, are often associated with the presence of severe depression or postpartum psychosis. 

As regards to the possible lines of action, identifying pregnant women with risk factors for developing psychological disorders and preventive psychological interventions have proven to be effective methods in reducing the impact of these problems. Also, in relation to the treatment of psychological disorders in the perinatal period, the main guidelines and recommendations, such as the NICE guidelines, the SIGN guidelines or the US Preventive Services Task Force, indicate that cognitive behavioural therapy is the first choice for addressing anxiety and mood disorders in pregnant women and in the postpartum phase.

Given that today there are efficacious and cost-effective treatment options for mitigating these deaths and suffering, the Spanish Psychological Association (COP) considers it necessary to provide efficacious care that protects the psychological health of the mother, both pre and post-delivery, guaranteeing access to effective psychological treatment for these women. All services dedicated to care during pregnancy and the post-partum period should ensure comprehensive care, so that attention to physical healthcare and mental healthcare are matched, providing the healthcare professionals in these services with specific training in detecting psychological disorders and working in multidisciplinary teams together with specialists in mental health. As far as possible, the early detection of psychological disorders should be prioritised in the perinatal period and effective psychological interventions should be provided, backed by scientific evidence, as recommended by the main clinical practice guidelines.

In line with the seriousness and importance of this problem, the COP considers it absolutely necessary that the public is aware of its importance and urges the implementation of the necessary measures to tackle the issue. In this regard, the COP fully supports the international effort to proclaim World Maternal Mental Health Day the first Wednesday of May (www.day.postpartum.net  #maternalMHmatters). This initiative has been promoted by various organisations such as Postpartum Support International (USA), the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (UK), the Maternal Mental Health Awareness Alliance (Turkey), the Centre of Perinatal Excellence (Australia), the National Coalition for Maternal Mental Health (USA), the Perinatal Mental Health Project (South Africa), the Maternal Wellness Clinic (Canada), Mother First (Canada), La Teppe Medical Centre (France), the Post & Ante- Natal Distress Support Group (New Zealand), the Reproductive Mental Health Programme (Canada), the International Marce Society for Perinatal Mental Health, Marce Gesellschaft (Germany), the Postpartum Support Network (Nigeria) and, in our country, the Spanish Marce Perinatal Mental Health Society (MARES).

Erroneous beliefs about motherhood, external pressure, the stigma associated with the diagnosis of a mental disorder or the fear of losing custody of the baby can pose significant obstacles to these mothers when it comes to seeking help, so the first step in breaking this isolation and lack of comprehension is to increase the social awareness of this problem. The impact and consequences of psychological disorders on the mother, the baby, the family environment and the healthcare system are reason enough to include Maternal Mental Health in the calendar of international days.

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