The World Maternal Mental Health Day is observed on May 4 to raise awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders during pregnancy and the first year after childbirth. Between 13-15 percent of mothers suffer from postpartum depression and can affect up to 56 percent of Mexican women and Latin American women living in the US.
Cultural, social and economic factors impact the way in which women adapt to pregnancy. Meanwhile, women who have dealt with mental health problems in the past face a higher risk of suffering from postpartum depression, which can negatively affect maternal-infant bonding.
While the Ministry of Health is committed to reduce maternal and perinatal mortality, morbidity is not being addressed. In Mexico, from the total of obstetric clinics that offer mental health services, only 37 percent have depression detection protocols and 40 percent have strategies to provide medical attention to depression cases, as reported by INSP. Mexico City and the State of Mexico have the highest coverages of mental health services for women, while the hospitals and clinics in the north and south of the country lacked protocols to address postpartum depression.
Depression at all stages of maternity is a public health problem. In Mexico, over 2 million women with a child five years old or younger present depression symptoms. Consequently, 4.6 million children live with a mother who is depressed. Within this group of mothers, depression is associated with domestic violence and having more than four kids, among other factors. Children who have mothers with depressive symptoms are more likely to present behavioral and socioemotional difficulties.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused mental health issues to increase. Mexican women under the age of 35 and people with lower economic and educational levels reported higher rates of symptoms of impaired mental health, as reported by MBN. During the pandemic, the severity of postpartum depression increased and the incidence of mental disorders was reported to be higher than during the pre-pandemic period.
Mental health has been in the spotlight and has led Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies to approve changes to the General Law of Health that prioritize this topic. Moreover, Mexico’s health system is transforming and aims to guarantee mental health attention in all of the specialized units. “During the pandemic, psychosocial problems increased. As part of the restructuring of the mental health system, we are encouraging promotion activities among communities and health professionals to progress towards early diagnosis,” said Jorge Alcocer, Mexico’s Minister of Health.