Mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety are very common before, and after childbirth. Depression is experienced by up to 15% of all women in the postpartum period, although these rates may be as high as 20% for New Zealand women (McGill, Benzie-Burrows, Holland, Langer & Sweet, 1995; Johnstone, & Read, 2000).
The risks associated with delayed/lack of treatment for postnatal depression can have significant adverse effects on early mother-infant attachment and interaction, and can negatively impact the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral development of the child (BPAC, 2010).
As part of the public health sector, Well Child nurses play a considerable role in protecting the wellbeing of children and families. The nurses role includes working in partnership with multidisciplinary agencies and the community, ensuring all families with children under the age of 5 receive a service founded upon health promotion and protection policies and initiatives. Preventive and screening measures are the staple of Well Child primary health care nursing practice, and Plunket is considerably involved in the development of health promotion policy and action in the community (Royal New Zealand Plunket Society Inc 2009).
As a Well Child nurse, it is fundamental to understand the significance of maternal mental health and the effect depression and anxiety can have on many other health aspects. Mental health is considered to be a complex and sensitive aspect of well being, and a great amount of therapeutic communication skill, experience, and knowledge is required of the Primary health nurse in the process of educating, screening and providing support through the postpartum period (Cohen, Wang, & Nonacs, 2010).
This report will discuss postnatal depression in the primary health care setting. Included will be the definition of postnatal depression, and the risks associated with the development of this health concern.The strengths and gaps of maternal mental health policies and guidelines are illustrated within the primary health care context, and recommendations are provided. The purpose of this report is to highlight the Well Child nurses role in improving practice around maternal mental health in the postpartum period, ensuring primary health care is delivered and received effectively by the at risk community, and the overall health deficits associated with postnatal depression are avoided or reduced.
Postnatal depression is characterized by a prolonged period of emotional disturbance, initially experienced up to 6 months after childbirth, and can last for up to a year. The symptoms for postnatal depression coincide with the symptoms for depression at any other stage in life, including; depressed mood, anhedonia, and low energy. However, the effect of these symptoms can impair the mother's ability to tend to their infants developmental, physical, and emotional needs, illuminating a potentially profound health impact...