The Ghana Health Service (GHS) with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Foreign, Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO-UK) have launched a report highlighting the need for a broader national policy to help address issues of maternal mental health disorders.

According to the study report, the formulation of a national policy as well as the standards and guidelines for routine maternal mental health care programme to identify, manage, and prevent maternal mental health disorders, would ensure the healthy functioning of mothers and optimal growth and development of their children.

At a dissemination forum on the situation of maternal mental health in Ghana, Senior lecturer at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr. Promise Sefogah, a maternal policy review for the country showed that none of the current maternal or child health policies included provisions for mental healthcare during pregnancy or postpartum.

“We have reviewed all the maternal and child health related policies by the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service including the Mental Health Act of 2012. There are no provisions for maternal mental health. There is none. And so we are emphasizing the call” he explained.

Study Findings

Some key findings of the study were the lack of adequate facilities, human resources, and logistics and stigmatisation against women suffering maternal mental health disorders.

The report, produced by the UK FCDO, analyzes the prevalence and impact of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and postpartum depression among women during pregnancy and after childbirth in Ghana.

It finds that 10-28% of women experience prenatal depression and 4-9% experience postnatal depression, while 33% experience prenatal anxiety.

These conditions can negatively impact birth outcomes and child development.Out-going Minister of Health (MoH), Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, emphasised the government’s commitment to improving mental healthcare.

Addressing maternal mental health issues, he said, was a collective responsibility which required political commitment, provision of the right health structures, reports by development partners and citizens’ involvement.

He welcomed the report and said it will help raise awareness, reduce stigma, and advocate for improved access to services.

The Ministry will provide leadership to fully implement the report’s recommendations.

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