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Synthesising Global and Local Knowledge for the Development of Maternal Mental Health Care: Two Cases from South Africa

Sara Cooper, Simone Honikman, Ingrid Meintjes, and Mark Tomlinson

Introduction

Maternal Mental Health: The Global Situation

Maternal mental health problems are increasingly being seen as an important public health concern within the global arena and particularly within low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) (Patel et al. 2011; Saxena et al. 2007). A recent systematic review found rates of common perinatal mental disorders in LMICs to be 15.6% amongst pregnant women and 19.8% amongst women who had recently given birth (Fisher et al. 2012). This situation has not gone [1] [2]

unnoticed, with widespread calls in recent years for the scaling-up of maternal mental health services in LMICs (Patel et al. 2011; Petersen et al. 2011). One of the dominant approaches for such scale-up is the deinstitutionalisation of maternal mental health care through its integration into primary health care and a shift towards community-based forms of care (Petersen et al. 2011; Rahman et al. 2013). Employing the concept of task-shifting/sharing, mental health care interventions would be delivered by non-specialist health workers, within existing routine primary health care as well as community settings.

Task-shifting is the predominant model that is being advocated on a global scale for the scale-up of mental health problems generally (Patel et al. 2011). This approach is seen as a crucial way in which to support overstretched public health systems, making a more efficient use of the human resources currently available. It is argued that task-shifting vastly increases the access points to treatment and care by reducing the ‘bottlenecks’ in the system created by a lack of staff able to perform certain tasks (Lewin et al. 2008).

  • [1] S. Cooper (*) School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa S. Honikman Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Alan J Flisher Centre for PublicMental Health, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  • [2] Meintjes Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USAM. Tomlinson Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa© The Author(s) 2017 R.G. White et al. (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Sociocultural Perspectiveson Global Mental Health, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-39510-8_23
 
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