Examining the views and opinions of Sri Lankan women about mental health from pregnancy to two years after their childbirth when living in the UK: a mixed method survey about perinatal mental health
Perinatal Mental Health Issues (PMHI) are a key contributor to maternal ill-health and morbidity. The prevalence of PMHI is significantly higher among migrant women compared to indigenous populations in high-income countries (HIC). Reasons for this difference are suggested as lower socio-economic status, low health literacy, language barriers and psychosocial stresses during migration. Little attention has been given to examine the views and opinions of PMH among the sub-groups of South Asians in the UK.
To examine the views and opinions of Sri Lankan women, living in the UK about perinatal mental health.
Methods and analysis:
A convergent mixed method online survey was designed and administered in English and Sinhalese languages. Sri Lankan women in the UK, from conception to two-year postpartum were included. Recruitment involved non-probability and snowball sampling. Standard descriptive statistics presented frequency and distribution whereas qualitative responses were interpreted via thematic analysis.
Thirty-four Sri Lankan women in the UK participated in the survey. Thirty-two (94%) viewed that PMH was important to be discussed with primary social groups and more widely. Nine women (26%) expressed psychological distress during their own perinatal stage. Women reported that their good perinatal mental health was maintained by support from their partner and family during pregnancy (n=13, 48%) and after birth (n=16, 64%). Twenty-seven (79%) received formal information during postpartum period and eleven (32%) found the information useful. Eight (34%) reported that sharing emotions with primary social groups was important. Twelve (52%) reported social stigma was a barrier to access support.
Health professionals need raised awareness about how to tailor support for Sri Lankan women’s PMHI needs. Partner and family support would be a modifiable target for intervention to improve Sri Lankan women’s PMH outcomes. Future research on migrant PMH should focus on culture sensitive subjective approaches where patients’ views, and opinions should be largely considered.