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Mental Health Service Use Among Pregnant and Early Postpartum Women Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Accepted/In press20 Jun 2022

King's Authors


Purpose: To explore the proportion and characteristics of women with a mental disorder who have contact with mental health services during pregnancy and the postnatal period in a maternity service in London.

Methods: Data from the WEll-being in pregNancy stuDY (WENDY), a prospective cohort study were used. Women were recruited at their first appointment for antenatal care and assessed for mental disorders using the Structured Clinical Interview DSM-IV Axis I/II Disorders for Research. Clinical, sociodemographic and psychosocial characteristics were collected. Mental health service use data were collected for the period from study entry to three-months postpartum.

Results: Two hundred women met diagnostic criteria for a mental disorder. Fifty-five (34%) of these had at least one contact with mental health services. Moderate depression (OR 7.44, CI 2.03-27.28, p<0.01), severe depression (OR 10.5, CI 2.68-41.12, p<0.01), past psychiatric hospital admission (OR 3.76, CI 1.05-13.44, p<0.05), symptoms of anxiety (OR 3.95, CI 1.86-8.37, p<0.001) and perceived low levels of social support (OR 0.43, CI 0.18-1.01, p=0.05) were associated with an increased likelihood of contact with mental health services in univariate analyses. However, only moderate (OR 5.92, CI 1.31-26.78, p=0.02) and severe depression (OR 6.04, CI 1.08-33.72, p=0.04) remained significant in the multivariate regressions analyses.

Conclusion: Only a third of women with a diagnosable mental disorder at their first antenatal appointment had any contact with mental health services during pregnancy or up to three-months postpartum. Further research is warranted to elicit perinatal women’s views about the potential barriers to accessing professional mental health care.

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