The Alliance for Mental Health and Development is to publish a Maternal Mental Health Advocacy Action Plan developed with the support of UK aid as part of a Maternal Mental Health Project.
The advocacy action plan aims at ensuring that poor and vulnerable women, including pregnant women, mothers, and their babies in Ghana have improved mental health and livelihoods.
This was in a statement signed by Mr Peter Badimak Yaro, Executive Director, BasicNeeds-Ghana and National Convenor – Alliance for Mental Health and Development, copied the Ghana News Agency, to mark Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day, which falls on 5th May 2021.
The event is meant to raise awareness, influence policy, and change attitudes towards maternal mental health issues.
This year’s theme – “Journeys to Recovery”— is intended to highlight how much the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way maternal and mental health services are delivered.
The statement said the Alliance for Mental Health and Development was using the celebration to encourage all health professionals, friends and relatives of pregnant women and new mothers to take keen interest in their mental health and support them to seek help and wished all well in the fight to secure mental health of mothers.
The statement said the Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week was first celebrated in 2014 by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, a group of organisations and individuals, including women with experience, who came together to raise awareness of maternal mental health in the UK.
It said the movement had since gained prominence and added many more advocates to its numbers.
“We, the Alliance for Mental Health and Development (Mental Health Alliance), made up of individuals and organisations with a shared interest in promoting mental health development in Ghana, are proud to join this global moment of reflection,” the statement said.
It said pregnancy and childbirth were among a woman’s most anxious moments in life and that without the proper care, the natural and joyful period could potentially bring untold pain and hardship upon women, their families, and the society.
It said women of every culture, age, income level and race could develop pre-natal mood and anxiety disorders.
The statement said the symptoms could appear any time during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth.
The statement said in many countries, such as Ghana, as many as one in five new mothers experience some type of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder.
It said the illnesses frequently went unnoticed and untreated, often with tragic and long-term consequences to both mother and child.
The statement said COVID-19 pandemic had also been particularly stressful on pregnant women and new mothers.
It said apart from the fear of contracting the COVID-19, most pregnant women and new mothers had also experienced disruptions to their routine clinical visits, especially during periods of COVID-19 restrictions.
“It is, therefore, a matter of grave concern that many women and their families are painfully oblivious of how pregnancy and childbirth could impact the mental health of women,” the statement said.
It said as a society, Ghanaians had not yet come to fully appreciate the role their mental health played in their daily lives.
The statement said as a country, no standard mental health screening protocol had been deployed to aid the early identification and treatment of perinatal mental health conditions.