• 4/30/2024

    Doha, 30 April 2024: Pregnancy and the initial period after childbirth can be a vulnerable time for women. Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is proud to join the global community in acknowledging World Maternal Mental Health Day on 1st May 2024. This significant day, observed annually on the first Wednesday in May, shines a light on the critical need for mental health support for mothers, ensuring their well-being and that of their families. HMC’s Mental Health Service is committed to continually expanding its women’s mental health services to better serve the needs of the population.

    Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can affect women across diverse cultures, ages, income brackets, and racial backgrounds. Globally, up to 1 in 5 new mothers encounter various forms of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs). Symptoms may manifest at any point during pregnancy or within the initial 12 months postpartum. Without detection or proper treatment, these symptoms may lead to tragic and enduring consequences for both the mother and the child. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options backed by thorough research to support women in their journey to recovery.

    “The transition to motherhood can be both a joyous and challenging experience, often accompanied by various emotional and psychological changes. Recognizing and addressing maternal mental health issues is vital to the overall health and development of mothers, infants, and families. In Qatar, through our comprehensive healthcare services, we strive to provide practical education and offer accessible mental health services and support to all mothers and their families in our community,” said Dr. Sazgar Hamad, Clinical Lead for HMC Women Wellness Centre & Virtual Women Mental Health & Perinatal Services.

    Dr. Sazgar Hamad added: “We established the Virtual Women’s Mental Health Service shortly after the launch of the National Mental Health Helpline in 2020, as a means for adult women facing mental health challenges to get easier access to professional diagnosis and treatment. Particularly for mental disorders unique to women, such as those occurring during or after pregnancy (perinatal depression), around the time of their period (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) or during the menopause transition (perimenopausal depression). This service has been hugely successful and nearly 1100 women accessed the virtual women’s mental health service in 2023.”

    The Virtual Women’s Mental Health Service offers three streams, including early intervention psychological wellbeing, perinatal mental health, and bereavement counselling. Most calls come from adult women, aged 25 to 34, seeking help with common mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, managing daily life demands, or relationship difficulties related to maternal health. The service completed over 8,500 intervention calls in 2023.

    Ms. Katja Warwick-Smith, Assistant Executive Director, Clinical Service Development, Mental Health Service at HMC, explained: “Almost half of those who accessed the support service were discharged following a brief intervention by the interdisciplinary team and did not require further mental health support. This indicates that we were able to intervene early and prevent problems from escalating.”

    “Providing rapid virtual responses has reduced the need to send people to the Emergency, making it more comfortable for them. We collaborate closely with our HMC colleagues across maternity wards, especially the Women’s Wellness and Research Center (WWRC), to ensure awareness of maternal mental health challenges and how to refer women for rapid support. Similarly, we liaise with the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) as primary care centers are often where women have their first interaction with Obstetrician and Gynecological experts,” added Ms. Warwick-Smith.

    This World Health Day serves as a crucial reminder of the significant impact maternal mental health has on the health and development of both mothers and their children. Recognizing and addressing maternal mental health concerns is essential for fostering healthy families and communities. By raising awareness about maternal mental health, we can create a brighter and healthier future for women, their families, and the communities they belong to.