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Giving Voice to the Silent Burden: Maternal Mental Health Technical Consultation

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Global Mental Health Action Network: Member's Blog

Giving Voice to the Silent Burden: Maternal Mental Health Technical Consultation


On Tuesday September 7th - Thursday, September 9th, USAID and its partners will hold Giving Voice to the Silent Burden: Maternal Mental Health Technical Consultation. You can register for the whole event and view the agenda here:

On Thursday, September 9th from 8:40 - 9:25 AM EDT there will be a concurrent session on, “Policy, Human Resources for Health, and Financing". It will discuss examples of successful integration including human resource and financing needs in Maternal Mental Health. 

For a sneak preview on what will be covered read this blog from Dr. Charlotte Hanlon, Kings College London, on her work with partners in Ethiopia.


How can integration of maternal health and mental health services be most effectively achieved at national and community level?

Women’s reproductive and sexual health cannot be separated from their mental health. If we are serious about parity of mental and physical health, we need integration. The potential advantages of an integrated approach are wider coverage, lower stigma and better maternal and child health outcomes.

How do we do it?

First, we need policy integration, e.g., using the platform of woman-centred maternal care and respectful maternal care. Second, detection is a major barrier to progress, we need to overcome this. Third, we need to better equip maternal care staff. Fourth, maternal mental health needs to be included in key health system information indicators, quality improvement initiatives and maternal care monitoring and evaluation. 


What have been some recent developments in addressing mental health in Ethiopia? Why has there been this progress?

In Ethiopia, there have been some small steps toward addressing maternal mental health and increasing interest. 

Why? There have been strong mental health research activities in Ethiopia, with close links between  policy development and local action. 

What has been done in Ethiopia? Maternal mental health is now a key focus of the national mental health strategy; and maternal mental health is integrated into new primary care guidelines that cover maternal care in health centres. 

What next? Overall, there remains a critical need to increase wider awareness about women’s mental health. Ethiopia is making real progress on maternal mental health. All of us have a role to play in supporting this crucially important effort.


Register for the session on Thursday 9th September and join the discussion: