INDIVIDUAL
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Demographic and Mental Health Factors

Certain demographic and mental health factors may impact perinatal mental health care. 

  • Ethnicity.

  • Previous experiences of mental health services.

  • Age.

  • Symptoms of mental illness​.

  • Previous diagnoses​.

Ethnicity 

A woman’s ethnicity may influence whether she decides to consult and whether she is able to access care. There is some evidence that suggests white women are more likely than Black, Asian and Minority ethnic women to seek help and be offered perinatal mental health care​.

"Asian and Black women were less likely to be offered treatment than White women and health care providers were perceived to discriminate against the women on account of their ethnicity".

Evidence level: ​ Low

​Parts of the care pathway affected: Decision to consult, Access to treatment​.

Key literature: ​

Watson H, et al. 2019

Age

Being older may be a facilitator to perinatal mental health care. More research is needed.​

 

“…older women sought treatment more often, due to maturity and a greater awareness about how to find care”​.

​Evidence level: Very low​

​Parts of the care pathway affected: Deciding to consult.

​​Key literature:

Hansotte E, et al. 2017

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Previous experiences of mental health services

Previous positive experiences of mental health services can be a facilitator, whereas previous negative experiences can be a barrier​.

"That is probably why a lot of black women don’t bother going to the system . . . the majority have had nightmares. So you’re thinking, “What’s the point in going back?”​​".​

​Evidence level: Moderate​

​Parts of the care pathway affected: Decision to consult, Assessment, Decision to disclose, Access to treatment, Women’s experience of treatment​.

​Key literature: ​

Watson H, et al. 2019

Symptoms of mental illness​

Current symptoms of mental illness may act as a barrier to perinatal mental health care.

"When I was experiencing mental health issues, it was harder for me to get out, sort of on a schedule and be punctual."​

​Evidence level: Low​

​Parts of the care pathway affected: Deciding to consult

​Key literature: ​

Sorsa MA, et al. 2021

Previous diagnoses​

Having a previous diagnosis of a mental health difficulty may be a facilitator to perinatal mental health care.

"Furthermore, having a history of depression or anxiety and/or treatment for it was found to be associated with service use for PPD…​[postpartum depression]".

​Evidence level: Very low​​

​Parts of the care pathway affected: Deciding to consult

​Key literature: ​

Bina R. 2020

Recommendations 

We recommend the government and policy makers provide adequate funding for all mental health services, to ensure employment of the optimal number of staff to meet individual’s needs.​

We recommend high quality training to be provided to all health professionals who come into contact with people who are experiencing mental health difficulties, to ensure a high level of care is provided to all. ​