By Samuel Adadi Akapule, Bolgatanga
Integration of mental health care into maternal health delivery is the key to addressing maternal and infant mortality in the country, Dr Gordon Donnir, the Head of the Department of Psychiatry Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), has observed.
The Senior Specialist Psychiatrist made the observation during a training workshop “on the Edinburg Per-Natal Depression Screening Toolkits” for Midwives, Community Psychiatrist Nurses and Community Health Nurses in Bolgatanga on Tuesday.
The training programme organized by Basic Need Ghana and sponsored by the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom , was aimed at empowering the health professionals to use the Edinburg Per-Natal Depression Screening Toolkits which had been recommended by the World Health Organization(WHO) in integrating mental health care into Maternal health care delivery.
“Maternal health care delivery in the country cannot be achieved holistically without the integration of mental health care into the maternal health care systems”, the Head of the Department of Psychiatry Unit stressed.
Dr Donnir who schooled the health professionals on the usage of the Edinburg Per-Natal Depression Screening Toolkits which is used to address the mental health needs of pregnant women and mothers, explained that depression commonly called “baby blues” often associated with mothers after delivery was a mental health problem and if not checked at the early stages for treatment could lead to health complications.
“Depression which is a mental disorder is mostly a risk factor for developing many diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Mothers and pregnant women are the most suffers when it comes to depression and if not checked at the early stages could have adverse health effects on them including pre-mature birth, miscarriages, intra uterus genital restriction leading to the given birth to small babies, mother –baby bonding also leading to poor feeding of the baby and further leading to malnutrition among babies as well as deficiency cognitive development of children”
He indicated that three quarters of mothers would experience baby blues, a significant depression episode and stressed the need for the establishment of a routine perinatal depression assessment in the health facilities to check pregnant women and mothers during pre-natal , anti-natal and post natal periods to help address the problem.
He said this would help in screening and diagnosing patients with baby blues and describing different treatment options for them including counselling and referrals.
Dr Donnir who impressed upon the health professional not to take depression for granted , said it was predetermine factor of many illnesses including diabetes and hypertension as well as make most of the victims to commit suicide.
He mentioned some of the symptoms of depression as headache, loss of appetite for sex and food, fatigue, hesitant, sad among others and emphasized that integrating mental health care into maternal health care at health facilities was the surest way of mitigating the problem.
Mr Fred Nantogmah, the Knowledge and Communication Officer of Basic Need Ghana , mentioned that the project which is targeting 30,000 pregnant women , mothers and girls in 74 districts made up of 27 in the northern, 13 in Upper East, 11 in Upper West, 50 in Ashanti, 18 in Brong Ahafo, six in the sub-metros in the Greater Accra is aimed at achieving maternal and child health in Ghana.
He attributed the failure of Ghana to meet the Millennium Development Goals four and five which was aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality to non-integration of mental health care into the maternal health delivery systems.
He explained that the situation where pregnant and mothers go for antenatal and post natal care only through physical examination ignoring the mental aspect was a big gap which needed to be filled
He said the project which being implemented by Basic Need Ghana in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service would help fill in the gap by ensuring that health facilities in the country use the Edinburg Per-Natal Depression Screening Toolkits which is a Universal acceptable tool for integrating mental health care into the maternal health care system .
Mr Fred Nantogmah who regretted the lack of data on mental health in the health facilities in the country; said Basic Need Ghana through project in partnership with the GHS would gather data on mental health to inform policy makers and government to help address the mental health needs of Ghanaians.
He said the project is also being implemented by other partners including the Christian Health Association of Ghana, Mental Health Authority of Ghana in other parts of the country.
Health Professionals at the training programme