Maternal mental health and wellbeing is one of the foundations of strong families, whānau, and communities. Pregnancy and early parenting is a time of enormous change and, often, big challenges for parents, families and whānau – whether it is the first child or whether there are multiple children in the whānau.
Supporting parent’s mental wellbeing during their child’s first 1,000 days, from conception to two years of age, is critical to supporting their child’s long-term emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.
The Ministry of Health estimates 12–18 percent of New Zealand mothers and 10 percent of fathers will develop depression, anxiety or other mental health issues during the perinatal period. These figures are higher in some population groups, particularly Māori and Pacific and Asian peoples.
Mothers who have strong family and whānau connections and a reliable support system are more likely to fare better in their pregnancies and will be better equipped to handle the challenges of pregnancy and parenthood. Early screening and intervention as soon as issues begin to present are critical to achieving the best outcomes for mothers, babies and the wider whānau. Services need to be equitable, include appropriate cultural models of care and support women across the continuum of care.
The Stocktake of maternal mental health services supports the Maternity Action Plan 2019-2023, and resulting findings will be used to strengthen services for new parents and whānau.