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Mental Health in an Unequal World

8th October 2021

In support of World Mental Health Day taking place on 10 October 2021, we are delighted to share a Voices blog by Hilda Beauchamp, iHV Perinatal & Infant Mental Health Lead.

‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’ is the theme for World Mental Health Day, Sunday 10 October 2021, encouraging a focus on the factors that are perpetuating mental health inequality locally and globally. The worldwide crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has caused widening health, economic and social inequalities which require a collective effort to address.

Although we have all been impacted by the pandemic, we have not been affected equally.

The perinatal period (pregnancy and the first year after birth) is a time of increased risk to parental mental health with around 20% of women and 10% of men experiencing a mental health problem, and evidence suggesting these rates increased significantly during the pandemic.

Women have been disproportionately affected as they are more vulnerable to socioeconomic inequalities, gender inequalities, domestic violence, and economic insecurity. In addition, women from diverse ethnic communities, including Black, South Asian and travelling communities, have been impacted more severely.

The World Federation for Mental Health has called for ‘researchers to share what they know about mental health inequality including practical ideas about how to tackle this’.

The mental health department at the iHV has already recognised the importance of partnering with researchers to address areas of unique unmet need in relation to perinatal mental health.

Our Factographics Project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, was a partnership between the University of Surrey and the Institute of Health Visiting led by Professors Ranjana Das and Paul Hodkinson, and was  based on key findings from three specific projects:

  • mental health taboos and British South Asian new mothers
  • new fathers, mental health, and digital technologies
  • having a baby during the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of technology

Our three Factographic Resources, launched on International Fathers Mental Health Day last June, were produced using parent-professional workshops to gather initial ideas and establish parameters and principles. These prototypes were subsequently fed back on, with a regular discussion between academics, practitioners and parents, to fine-tune the resources. The Factographics are designed to be accessible, interactive resources to support good parental mental health and wellbeing, and build on the specific project findings – drawing out the key messages using animation, films and personal stories. They are for use directly by parents online, and by practitioners and parents in-person or online, and are available in web, mobile and PDF versions.

Links to Factographics:

New dad? You’re not alone…Factographic

A baby is a blessing so why do I feel this way? – Factographic

New parent during the pandemic? Factographic

Your feedback is needed

We would welcome feedback from parents and professionals about how they are using these resources and ideas they may have about future developments.

Please share your feedback here:

Hilda Beauchamp, iHV Perinatal & Infant Mental Health Lead