Background: Perinatal mental health problems are common complications of pregnancy that can go undetected and untreated. Research indicated that mental health complications are more prevalent in women from disadvantaged communities, yet women from these communities often experience barriers to accessing treatments and interventions. Untreated depression during pregnancy can lead to poor self-care, increased substance abuse, poor obstetrical outcomes, developmental delay in children, and increased risk of postpartum depression. In this study we investigated the perceived perinatal mental health needs of our participants and they wanted to address their perceived needs.Methods: In this qualitative study, we invited women who resided in an underserved, urban community who were pregnant or who delivered within the past year to participate in focus groups.Results: Thirty-seven women participated in seven focus groups. Thirteen themes emerged which were described in relation to mental health needs, help currently accessed and the type of support wanted. The themes included the various mental health needs including dealing with changing moods, depression, feelings of isolation, worrying and a sense of being burdened. Women described using a limited range of supports and help. Participants expressed a preference for mental health support that was empowerment focused in its orientation, including peer support. Women also described the compounding effect that social and economic stresses had on their mental health.Conclusions: Participants wanted access to a greater range of supports for mental health than were currently available to them, including peer support, and wanted assistance in addressing social and economic needs. These findings offer a challenge to further broaden the types of services offered to women, and demonstrate that those services need to be responsive to the challenging contexts of women's lives. Integrating women's views and experiences into the development of services may help to overcome barriers to care.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the funding source for this project, the Office on Women’s Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Public Health and Science, “Coalition for a Healthier Community”, Principal investigator, Nancy C. Raymond, MD.
© 2014 Raymond et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
- Focus group
- Mental health
- Qualitative data