The Messages for Mothers (M4M) platform launched by the Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP) is a one-stop online resource developed in response to Covid-19 and the lack of targeted messaging for vulnerable mothers who are concerned for their children, families and themselves.
The platform curates simple content that answers common questions like “Must I wear a mask? Will I get a child support grant? How do I explain COVID-19 to my children?”, and provides links to essential advice, information and support.
Mental health podcasts available in English, Afrikaans, isiZulu and isiXhosa are also available on the site (see here).
In creating M4M, the PMHP – based at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health – teamed up with local organisations Embrace, Flourish, Grow Great and Side by Side.
On the M4M website, women can find immediate help and information in three main areas: maternal and mental health, physical health, and parenting in the pandemic.
To offset the limitations of high data costs, M4M has developed shorter graphic message versions of their articles.
"We’re actively campaigning that the materials are made available on zero-rated websites and on the National Department of Health WhatsApp line," PMHP director, Associate Professor Simone Honikman, pointed out.
"Prior to COVID-19, the prevalence of depression and anxiety in pregnant and postnatal women was about one in three. For each mental health condition separately, the rate was about one in five, but there’s a lot of co-morbidity," she said.
“We also want to address domestic violence as there has been an enormous escalation of this since lockdown, and the negative associations with mental health and maternal health, and child physical outcomes are well documented," she explained.
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