At Miked Cares, we deliver affordable perinatal mental healthcare services to underserved African women of reproductive age that are responsive, relevant, and robust. We do not only provide awareness and advocacy but also directly provide psychoeducational resources and professional individual and group counseling support for expectant and new mothers.
In Africa, access to perinatal mental healthcare is almost non-existent, as one of our clients, Ann, realized. Having a baby was supposed to be Ann's biggest dream, but she could not shake off the constant sadness and anxiety she suffered after she had her child. Night after night she cried herself to sleep, affecting her health and ability to care for her newborn. Her struggle with postpartum depression in a conservative society like Nigeria – coupled with limited awareness of and access to perinatal mental health practitioners – made her feel helpless and alone.
Nonetheless, Ann's case is not alone. According to 2022 estimates by the World Health Organisation, perinatal mental health challenges like anxiety and depression are common – affecting 1 in 5 new and expectant mothers in low- and middle-income countries in Africa. This is roughly double its occurrence in high-income countries, as the prevailing poverty and gender inequality in the region are important risk factors (USAID Momentum, 2022). Pregnancy and childbirth can also trigger or worsen mental health illnesses like schizophrenia and psychosis.
Perinatal mental health challenges can have grave consequences for maternal and child health if uncared for. It heightens the risks of obstetric complications – the leading cause of maternal and infant mortality, and can lead to suicide in mothers (WHO, 2022). Also, it results in poor birth outcomes, such as low infant weight. It impairs the ability of mothers to provide adequate feeding and nutrition to their children and make rational health choices. These multiply the risks for physical illnesses for both mother and child, and can further result in emotional and behavioral difficulties in children. It is thus highly critical that perinatal mental health care becomes readily accessible to women in Africa.
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