Perinatal mental health is a major public health issue affecting 20% of Australian mothers within the first year post birth. Perinatal depression/anxiety is the most prevalent mood disorder associated with childbirth, with an incidence of 14% in Australia. The impact of perinatal depression/anxiety can be detrimental for the mother, her relationships and her developing infant. As a result of maternal depression/anxiety and stress, the increased level of maternal cortisol can threaten the developing foetal nervous system. This may result in poorer birth outcomes such as preterm delivery, small birth size and associated morbidity. Long term effects include poorer learning outcomes, adolescent mental health issues and associated lifelong consequences.
Early identification, treatment and support helps women recover from postnatal depression. Recovery can lead to an enhancement of their life skills, emotional development and the rebuilding of relationships. However, despite the prevalence and consequences of antenatal and postnatal depression, most women do not seek and/or receive treatment. With so few Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander peoples accessing mental health support until it is urgent, routine screening and effective early intervention for perinatal depression/anxiety in the Kimberley is critical.
The Kimberley Mums Mood Scale (KMMS) is an alternative to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and screens for depression and anxiety. It has been collaboratively developed by health care providers and over 100 Aboriginal women from eight language groups throughout the Kimberley. KMMS is a cross sector collaborative project which is supported by WA Country Health Service - Kimberley, Boab Health Service, KAMSC and The Rural Clinical School of WA.
This project aims to validate the KMMS using a gold standard mental health assessment and assess its acceptability. Once validated the KMMS should ensure the culturally appropriate mental health screening of Kimberley Aboriginal women during the perinatal period.
- Jayne Kotz
- Sudha Coutinho
- Dr Catherine Engelke
- Assoc Prof Julia Marley
- Meleseini Tai-Roche
- Dr Stephanie Trust
- Melissa Williams