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Double jeopardy: The importance of nurturing culturally responsive perinatal mental healthcare

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posted on 2023-04-14, 07:19 authored by KATHLEEN MARKEYKATHLEEN MARKEY, Magdalene Ibeajaero

Perinatal mental illness is a common complication of pregnancy, which can result in devastating effects for the mother, infant and family unit. Consequently, perinatal mental health is a growing public health concern and there is a renewed emphasis on early identification of mental illness during pregnancy and within the first year after birth, as a means of ensuring appropriate interventions are provided in a timely manner. Healthcare professionals across healthcare settings and services play a critical role in identifying perinatal mental health concerns and providing appropriate woman and family centred supports and referrals to specialised perinatal mental health services when required. However, healthcare professionals often feel ill prepared and uncertain of their roles and responsibilities when engaging with women experiencing perinatal mental illness. The complexities and difficulties with providing perinatal mental healthcare is further exacerbated when caring for women from diverse cultural, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. Consequently, there are growing reports of missed opportunities in identifying perinatal mental health concerns and substandard perinatal mental healthcare for culturally and linguistically diverse women (Heslehurst et al., 2018; Pangasa et al., 2019). The persistent and systematic barriers to accessing healthcare for women from diverse cultural, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds warrants urgent attention. The need for easily accessible, equitable and culturally responsive perinatal mental healthcare is now a necessity. In this context, culturally responsible perinatal mental healthcare is defined as the provision of quality and safe healthcare in culturally appropriate and sensitive ways for women experiencing perinatal mental illness. This commentary paper highlights the importance of exploring perinatal mental healthcare through a social justice lens and illustrates how culturally responsive perinatal mental healthcare is a means of achieving social justice principles in practice. 

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Nurse Education Today 116, 105446

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Elsevier

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  • Health Research Institute (HRI)

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  • Nursing and Midwifery

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