The promotion of health literacy and follow-up of pregnant women and postpartum women is not new to the Matosinhos Community Care Unit (UCC). This work has been performed since 2010 within the Bem me Quer program.
In 2020, with the pandemic, a worrying number of mothers began to be referred to the Mental and Psychiatric Health Nursing Team (ESMP) “with evident signs of weakness, with symptoms of depression and emotional changes,” explains nurse Daniela. Machado, who had then started working as an ESMP specialist.
He adds: “These symptoms intensified in intensity and frequency, due to the conditions to which all pregnant women and their families were exposed, providing isolation, loneliness, fear and anxiety. an online monitoring program for parents who belonged to established groups. “
Precisely because of the context of the pandemic, it was not possible to immediately implement a project to promote mental health in parenting. Later, “with the integration of nurse Marta Valadar, who brought extensive experience in the field of mental and school health, in November 2021 we launched the Group for the Promotion of Mental Health in Parenting, which is based on monitoring and counseling this population,” explains Daniela Machado .
The pilot project aims to promote mental health literacy and life satisfaction and prevent the development of mental illness, but not only that.
It is also designed to improve well-being, coping with stress and resistance to illness, supporting the recognition of feelings and emotions, and enabling parents to cope with challenges in a healthy way.
Group therapy and individual monitoring
And how does this support work? Marta Valadar explains that the basis of the project, based on psychoeducation, are “sessions that are planned for groups, and include the largest number of pregnant women and mothers,” emphasizing that “group therapy has proven its effectiveness.”
However, he clarifies that “according to the needs expressed in the applied evaluation instruments, as well as according to the perception of signs of discomfort by the team, which lead to referral, monitoring is done individually in the mental health consultation Mental”.
According to Daniela Machado, pregnant women, young mothers and family members immediately accepted the project: “When the sessions were presented to the groups, the news was received with enthusiasm and curiosity, and they said it would be an advantage and confirm the need for this follow-up so specifically.”
The evaluation of the program by the mothers leaves no room for doubt: on a scale of 1 to 5, the sessions are classified with an average of 4.5 points. 100% said he advised a friend to look at him. As suggestions, “they mention the need for sessions to be personal.”
Speaking about the results of the project, Marta Valadar points out that “there are still very few of them, because this is a project very recently”. However, here are some facts:
• The sent questionnaires were filled in by 59 women, with an average age of 33 years, 36% (n = 21) were of multiple births.
– Achieved values on the scales of life satisfaction are on average 28 points, classified as “Very satisfied”;
– PDSS (Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS) – Pregnancy version) received an average value of 71.09 points, which is below the reference value for the presence of symptoms of depression (79).
• The sessions were attended by 12 women, 6 completed questionnaires, with an average age of 37 years.
– 100% (n = 6) are primiparous. 83.3% (n = 5) attended mental health promotion sessions in parenting.
– On the scale of life satisfaction, the average remained at 28 points;
– At the EPDS (Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale), we received an average score of 7.2 points, which is also below the reference value for clinically significant symptoms of depression (12).
“Information can make a difference”
And what conclusions can already be drawn? First of all, “the role of the nurse specializing in mental health and psychiatry is fundamental throughout the life cycle, and in transition with this dimension it becomes even more important,” says Daniela Machado.
He also reminds that “some difficulties and challenges arose along the way. However, they launched a search for strategies to overcome them, which culminated in professional and personal growth.”
The central message for Marta Valadar is that “Promoting mental health is necessary at all stages of life.” In that sense, he emphasizes, “Challenging events always exist, doubts and uncertainties too. Information can make a difference.”
Marta Valadar and Daniela Machado
A project to be replicated in other units
According to Marta Valadar, “mental health promotion programs at this particular stage of a person’s life, which exist at the national level, are not yet available to professionals, for consultation or replication.”
In that sense, he adds that they tried to establish some contacts with colleagues and promote the exchange of experiences, “in order to enrich the processed content, always with the goal of helping parents in what is the biggest and most important transition”.
For Daniel Machado, “the window of opportunity opened by the pandemic, in which the spotlight is focused on the mental health of the population, allows us to set as one of our future goals the replication of this project in other units.”
The project, however, was unveiled last month, during a second meeting promoted by the Nucleus of Nurses Specializing in Mental and Psychiatric Health Nursing at ULS Matosinhos, of which Marta Valadar and Daniela Machado are a part.