We acknowledge the beyondblue National Postnatal Depression Program as the source of funding; the Board and staff members of the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service (TAIHS); and Claudinia Daley as Aboriginal Research Assistant at TAIHS. We thank Dr. Kathryn Panaretto, Melvina Mitchell, and the TAIHS for their valuable contributions to this project.
The interface of mental and emotional health and pregnancy in urban indigenous women: Research in progress†
Article first published online: 4 MAY 2010
Copyright © 2010 Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health
Infant Mental Health Journal
Volume 31, Issue 3, pages 277–290, May/June 2010
How to Cite
Hayes, B. A., Campbell, A., Buckby, B., Geia, L. K. and Egan, M. E. (2010), The interface of mental and emotional health and pregnancy in urban indigenous women: Research in progress. Infant Ment. Health J., 31: 277–290. doi: 10.1002/imhj.20256
- Issue published online: 4 MAY 2010
- Article first published online: 4 MAY 2010
Research among indigenous women in Australia has shown that a number of lifestyle factors are associated with poor obstetric outcomes; however, little evidence appears in the literature about the role of social stressors and mental health among indigenous women. The not-for-profit organization beyondblue established a “Depression Initiative” in Australia. As part of this they provided funding to the Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service in the “Mums and Babies” clinic. The aim of this was to establish a project to (a) describe the mental health and level of social stressors among antenatal indigenous women and (b) assess the impact of social stressors and mental health on perinatal outcome. A purposive sample of 92 indigenous women was carried out. Culturally appropriate research instruments were developed through consultations with indigenous women's reference groups. The participants reported a range of psychosocial stressors during the pregnancy or within the last 12 months. Significant, positive correlations emerged between the participants' Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS; J. Cox, J. Holden, & R. Sagovsky, 1987) score and the mothers' history of child abuse and a history of exposure to domestic violence. A more conservative cutoff point for the EPDS (>9 vs. >12) led to 28 versus 17% of women being identified as “at risk” for depression. Maternal depression and stress during pregnancy and early parenthood are now recognized as having multiple negative sequelae for the fetus and infant, especially in early brain development and self-regulation of stress and emotions. Because of the cumulative cultural losses experienced by Australian indigenous women, there is a reduced buffer to psychosocial stressors during pregnancy; thus, it is important for health professionals to monitor the women's emotional and mental well-being.