Rebecca Blackmore

Perinatal mental health in women of a refugee background

Rebecca Blackmore – rebecca.blackmore@monash.edu

As women adjust to pregnancy and early parenthood, they experience heightened risk of developing or re-experiencing mental health disorders including depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder. Routine screening for mental health disorders in pregnancy is recommended and yet this remains a common evidence-practice gap in pregnancy care across Australia. The perinatal period is not only a turning point in the mental health of a woman, but the starting point of the mental health trajectory of her child. Women of refugee background are likely to be at even higher risk of perinatal mental health disorders due to refugee experiences and post-resettlement stressors.

My PhD project aims to determine the prevalence of mental health disorders in women of refugee background during pregnancy and to assess the performance of existing screening and diagnostic questionnaires in current refugee population groups. This will take place within a larger research project about the implementation of mental health screening and follow-up within pregnancy care at Monash Health. These projects will provide recommendations for how best to implement this part of recommended pregnancy care.