Breaking the silence on maternal mental health – Video series

There is an urgent need for supporting women who have symptoms of depression before, during, and after pregnancy. The negative effects of poor maternal mental health are many, for both mothers and babies, and yet there are no EU-level policies that specifically address this. As highlighted by key figures, this should be formalized in laws and policies. Since women constitute more than 51,7 % of the European population, their health – both physical and mental – should matter to Europe and its decision-makers.

In this video conversation series conducted by Ingrid Froneman, we are delighted to feature two specialists in maternal mental health:

  • Dr. Ana Ganho-Ávila is a clinical psychologist and a researcher at the University of Coimbra in Portugal and action chair of the Riseup-PPD project in which MMM has also been involved. She shares her experience working with mothers to support positive mental health before, during, and after pregnancy. A mother herself, Dr. Ganho highlights the critical need to break the silence on this important topic and to start talking more openly about it.
  • Dr. Alain Gregoire is a consultant perinatal (mother and baby) psychiatrist in the UK. He was the founder and is current Chair of the Global Alliance for Maternal Mental Health (GAMMH), and founder and President of the UK Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA). In these interviews, Dr Gregoire shares his 25-year career working with mothers to take care of and promote positive mental health in what is a period of great change – during and after pregnancy. He also draws on his own experience as a father.

Conversations with Professor Ganho-Ávila

Episode 1: Why Maternal Mental Health?

In this first episode, Professor Ganho Ávila talks about the importance of maternal mental health and the critical need to start a dialogue around it for mothers, their families, and communities at large. She start off by explaining how mental health came to be so important to her.

Episode 2: Research and new guidelines for PPD

Prof. Ganho Ávila talks about her specific research interest and endeavours as it relates to maternal mental health. Alarmed by a lack of resources for healthcare providers to detect and understand different clinical indicators for peripartum depression (PPD) (peripartum meaning during pregnancy and after birth), Prof. Ganho Ávila has been working with colleagues, including Make Mothers Matter, to develop European-wide guidelines for diagnosing and treating PPD in clinical practice. You can find the newly published guidelines here.

Episode 3: 5 things to know about maternal mental health

Prof. Ganho Ávila presents 5 points about maternal mental health. The key message: you are not alone and there is help out there. In fact, an estimated 10-20% of new mothers experience poor maternal mental health and 4-10% of new fathers, highlighting its worrying societal impact.

Episode 4: Call on policymakers

Organisations like ours work to support and empower mothers by influencing policies to bring about positive change. Prof. Ganho Ávila lays out actionable steps policymakers, specifically in the European context, need to take to better address maternal mental health as well as more general issues affecting mothers. The responsibility is on all of us to help push the policy agenda forwards and demand change.

Episode 5: How to support the mothers in our lives?

Prof. Ganho Ávila offers advice on how all of us can, and have a responsibility to better understand maternal mental health, the common challenges of being a new mom, and to create more supportive environments for talking about it. It takes a village to raise a child and we can be part of that by unconditionally supporting mothers, be that ourselves (in practicing self-care) or others.

Episode 6: Advice to new parents

Prof. Ganho Ávila addresses new mothers and fathers on what they should know, as they plan for your pregnancy and beyond. Make Mothers Matter wishes to thank Prof. Ganho Ávila and Ingrid for their insightful discussion, and we look forward to continuing our strong partnership and joint advocacy work well into the future. Stay tuned for more videos!

Conversations with Dr Alain Gregoire

Episode 1: Why Maternal Mental Health?

In this first episode, Dr. Gregoire introduces himself and presents his work. He also explains why maternal mental health matters.

Episode 2: What does the research tells us?

Dr. Gregoire summarises what the latest research reveals about maternal mental health and its impact on both mom and baby (and even later generations). As he notes, it’s important to remember that maternal mental health has really only been on the research agenda for the past 20 or so years, so there is still a lot more to be learned.

Episode 3: How do we nurture the nurturers?

Dr. Gregoire asserts that health and politics are inextricably linked. As a civil society, it’s our collective responsibility to call on policymakers to bring maternal mental health onto the policy agenda and to make positive changes that are in the best interests of mothers. As Dr. Gregoire puts it, how do we nurture the nurturers? You can find MMM’s recent call to action on this topic here.

Episode 4: Global coalition for maternal mental health

Although much of Dr. Gregoire’s clinical and research experience is based in the UK (and France and Norway), his messages remain true for advocates all over the world, across multiple settings and socioeconomic contexts. After all, mothering is a universal experience, as is mental health.

Episode 5: Partnering for progress in low-resource settings

Building on his last points (from episode 4), Dr. Gregoire explains how while there is a basic understanding globally of the importance of maternal mental health, interventions have to be tweaked across different settings (particularly those with low resources) to be both accessible and culturally competent. This will ensure the greatest uptake of the intervention and a larger number of positively supported mothers.

Episode 6: From awareness to action

There is a critical need for all of us to shift the way we think about maternal mental health, and mental health more generally. To Dr. Gregoire, we need to first be better at recognizing and valuing our own mental health and then extend that to nurturing it in others. And especially mothers, as the primary nurturers in almost all societies.

Episode 7: What all new parents need to know

Here, Dr. Gregoire shares what he wants all new parents to know. It comes back to remembering that you are an amazing person doing one of the most difficult jobs that humans can do. If you’re struggling, he says, it isn’t at all surprising (it’s a hard, hard job!) But that being said, there is help to be had. And most importantly, you’re not alone – make use of your village and be brave in asking for help.

Episode 8: So what’s next?

We thank Dr. Gregoire and Ingrid for their insightful discussion, and a special thanks to Dr. Gregoire for being such a passionate and dedicated supporter of maternal mental health. His many contributions to the field are significant, helping to lay the groundwork for advocacy work like ours.

Stay tuned for more videos!

 

 

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