Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Be more aware of post-natal depression

MCA Public Service and Complaints Department chief Michael Chong has highlighted a very important area of mental health affecting women who have recently given birth (The Star, Jan 22).

Post-natal blues, where mothers experience spells of irritability followed by bouts of crying due to hormonal changes are fairly common but post-natal depression is more serious and requires treatment.

The symptoms of post-natal depression are more severe and prolonged. It is frequently undetected and untreated, resulting in devastating consequences.

It affects not only the woman experiencing it but also the family, in particular the newborn.

We are happy to note that the issue of early detection of post-natal depression was discussed at the recent Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council meeting (the Malaysian Mental Health Association being a member).

The council was informed of plans to strengthen training for front-line staff at community and health clinics, and also of putting a mechanism in place to ensure proper screening of post-natal mothers for any depressive illness.

In relation to this, the Health Ministry should consider including the topic of post-natal depression at its ante-natal classes.

As a large proportion of deliveries and post-natal care occur outside the ministry’s facilities, it is essential that private maternity homes and private hospitals also institute a similar mechanism.

Greater public awareness of depressive illness and mental illness in general as medical conditions will help those suffering from them seek early treatment.

Malaysian Mental Health Association.