'My special time': Australian women's experiences of accessing a specialist perinatal and infant mental health service
Myors, KA and Schmied, V and Johnson, M and Cleary, M, 'My special time': Australian women's experiences of accessing a specialist perinatal and infant mental health service, Health and Social Care in The Community, 22, (3) pp. 268-77. ISSN 0966-0410 (2014) [Refereed Article]
Women who have few social supports, poor health and a history of stressful life events are at risk of poor mental health during the perinatal period. Infants of parents whose parenting capacity is compromised are also at risk of adverse outcomes. Specifically, poor perinatal mental health can impact maternal-infant attachment. To identify women at risk of poor perinatal mental health, psychosocial assessment and depression screening in the antenatal and early postnatal periods are recommended. This qualitative study is part of a larger mixed methods study, which explored two specialist perinatal and infant mental health (PIMH) services in New South Wales (Australia). Eleven women who had accessed and been discharged from a PIMH service participated in either face-to-face or telephone interviews. Data were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. One overarching theme, 'my special time' and three sub-themes, 'there is someone out there for me', 'it wasn't just a job' and 'swimming or stranded: feelings about leaving the service', were identified. The themes describe the women's experiences of being a client of a PIMH service. Overall, women reported a positive experience of the service, their relationship with the clinician being a key component. Findings from this study highlight the importance of the relational aspect of care and support; however, women need self-determination in all therapeutic processes, including discharge, if recovery and self-efficacy as a mother are to be gained. Importantly, further research is needed about how clinicians model a secure base and how mothers emulate this for their infants.
attachment; perinatal and infant mental health; psychosocial; qualitative research; relationship/s; secure base; women