"I felt I needed help, but I did not get any”: A multiple stakeholder qualitative study of risk and protective factors, and barriers to addressing common mental health problems among perinatal adolescents in Malawi

Wezi Mhango*, Daniel Michelson, Darya Gaysina

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Background
Common mental health problems (particularly depression and anxiety) are common among adolescents during the perinatal period. Previous research has identified the distinctive needs of this group and called for contextually appropriate psychosocial interventions. The current study conducted in Malawi aims to explore risk and protective factors for common mental health problems, and barriers to accessing mental health care, among perinatal adolescents, in order to develop a contextually relevant intervention for preventing and treating perinatal depression and anxiety.
Method
An exploratory qualitative study was conducted in antenatal and postnatal clinics in Zomba district, Malawi in January-March 2022. In-depth individual interviews were completed with perinatal adolescents aged 19  (n = 14); their family members (n = 4); and healthcare workers (n = 8). Interview data were subjected to thematic framework analysis.
Findings
Data were organised around two themes: “psychosocial risk and protective factors” (potential causes of common mental health problems among adolescents); and “health care services” (maternal and mental health services available, and adolescents’ experiences of using these services).
Conclusion
Interventions need to go beyond targeting symptoms of depression and anxiety to addressing the wider contextual risk factors and barriers to care at the different socioecological levels.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Mental Health
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2023

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