Africa is a diverse and changing continent with a rapidly growing population, and the mental health of mothers is a key health priority. Recent studies have shown that: perinatal common mental disorders (depression and anxiety) are at least as prevalent in Africa as in high-income and other low- and middle-income regions; key risk factors include intimate partner violence, food insecurity and physical illness; and poor maternal mental health is associated with impairment of infant health and development. Psychological interventions can be integrated into routine maternal and child healthcare in the African context, although the optimal model and intensity of intervention remain unclear and are likely to vary across settings. Future priorities include: extension of research to include neglected psychiatric conditions; large-scale mixed-method studies of the causes and consequences of perinatal common mental disorders; scaling up of locally appropriate evidence-based interventions, including prevention; and advocacy for the right of all women in Africa to safe holistic maternity care.
- Low- and middle-income countries
- perinatal psychiatry
- transcultural psychiatry