Doha, 16 May 2022: The Women’s Wellness and Research Center’s Patient and Family Education unit (PFE) in collaboaration with Mental Health Service is organizing a week-long awareness campaign in support of World Maternal Mental Health Day (WMMHD 2022) to encourage young mothers-to-be and those who have given birth recently (prenatal and post-natal women) to know that maternal mental health matters and that it is important to improve their psychological wellbeing.
The team is organizing the public awareness campaign on 12 May at WWRC’s OPD lobby to encourage pregnant women to safeguard their mental health by educating them to follow some guidelines to improve their psychological wellbeing.
The educational activities will also highlight some of the mental health services available in Qatar, including the targeted Virtual Women’s Mental Health Service, which offers free and confidential counseling for women, including maternal mental health advice. This Service can be accessed through the National Mental Health Helpline on #16000. Another targeted service includes the Perinatal Wellness Clinic in OPD, which provides effective, evidence-based mental health assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for patients attending WWRC.
Dr. Salwa Mohd Abu Yaqoub, WWRC’s Chair of Obstetrics notes that research evidence so far shows that pregnant women are more likely to experience some mental illness or conditions during pregnancy and in the few years following that. “Approximately 1 in 5 women have perinatal mental health problems during pregnancy and the first year after giving birth. Not having adequate treatment can have serious consequences for the mother and baby as well as the whole family. Hence, perinatal mental health is crucial for the health and well-being of all concerned. For some women, the hormonal changes during pregnancy or after birth make their mental health more vulnerable due to mixed emotions, including feelings of anxiety and sadness and worries about the baby's condition,” she states.
According to her, World Maternal Mental Health Day (WMMHD) draws attention to essential mental health concerns for mothers and families. “The WMMHD is all about increasing public and professional awareness of perinatal mental health problems and assisting families in getting the knowledge, care, and support they require to recover. It is important for mothers and their families to know that ‘maternal mental health matters’,” Dr. Yaqoub says adding that the Perinatal Wellness Clinic in WWRC’s OPD provides effective, evidence-based mental health assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for patients attending WWRC.
Ms. Haila Swaid Salim, WWRC’s Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery, emphasizes the importance of raising awareness of Maternal Mental Health to help women in understanding the risks and in recognizing the signs and symptoms of these conditions for early diagnosis and treatment, which increases the chance of recovery. “A general lack of awareness could result in a significant delay in diagnosis and treatment, which can have serious consequences in more acute cases, which can have serious consequences in more acute cases,” she notes.
“Early diagnosis of maternal mental health is important and to improve your perinatal mental health and wellbeing you should feel free to discuss your feelings with someone you trust, such as your spouse, a friend, a sibling, or a parent,” Sister Salim advises.
“If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, do not be afraid to talk to a healthcare expert about your feelings; they are there to listen and help you. They may refer you for some psychological counseling or provide you with various forms of emotional support,” she adds.
Ms. Salim explains further that in addition to eating balanced diets and at regular intervals, mothers should ensure to attend antenatal classes to gain knowledge, meet other pregnant women, and share experiences. “ If you're feeling stressed, try some soothing breathing techniques or mindfulness meditation. If you can, engage in some physical activity to boost your mood and sleep. Do not compare yourself to other pregnant women as each woman's pregnancy is unique,” she cautions.
“In HMC, WWRC and Mental Health Services are committed to providing support and consultation to all women with maternal mental health concerns and women and their families are encouraged to seek professional help if they are experiencing perinatal depression.,” says Dr. Sazgar Hamad, Clinical Lead for the Women’s Mental Health Services at HMC.
She reinforces that, “In the first instance, they can contact the National Mental Health Helpline via 16000 to speak confidentially to a female mental health professional. If required, they can request an appointment and be seen by a psychiatrist or psychologist for a comprehensive assessment, consultation, treatment, and follow-up services. The virtual women’s mental health service is a fully confidential service to deliver safe and holistic care designed to support the unique needs of women. The team included experienced mental health professionals (Arabic/English-speaking) to offer support during stressful times that women are facing,” she highlights.
The World Maternal Mental Health Day (WMMHD) is internationally recognized every May 4th. The day draws attention to essential mental health concerns for mothers and families. Life changes around pregnancy make women more vulnerable to mental challenges.
Hamad Medical Corporation is committed to increasing public and professional awareness of perinatal mental health problems, advocating for women who are affected; our aim is to help change attitudes, and assist families in getting the knowledge, care, and support they require to recover.