While many countries around the world have made steps towards awareness of perinatal mental disorders, Zimbabwe lags behind, having poor to no statistics on maternal mental health. The derived assumption is that of general maternal well-being, in the country, in fact, this is yet another disturbing face of women and girls, unheard and uninformed. PONA Campaign seeks to create awareness about the need for perinatal well-being and the reality of perinatal mental disorders. Pona is a Shona word that is interchangeably used to mean either giving birth or surviving a life -threatening ordeal. I am also using it to stand for Psychology Of Natal well-being Awareness **Shona being the predominant home language in Zimbabwe, the campaign name is geared at attracting the attention of women within childbearing age. Importance:
While perinatal mental disorders do not segregate, some of the more common triggers include * economic instability- uncertainty about providing for child/ self * health anxiety- eg. many only become aware of their HIV status during pregnancy * unplanned/ unwanted pregnancy - option of termination is illegal in Zimbabwe * teenage pregnancy- psychological unpreparedness for parenthood * prior mental illness - depression, schizophrenia amongst others The country is at a place, where the people are psychologically under strain, following economic uncertainty, unemployment, HIV, yet these needs are not being attended to. If perinatal mental disorders are not attended to, they can lead to - Infanticide- without help, women suffering from perinatal mental disorders are more likely to harm their babies. Ultimately a woman who was not understood and needed help is sentenced for years. Unheard. - Suicide - without help, the overwhelm of depression and being a new mother can result in a woman taking her life. -Lack of mother-child bond,resulting in developmental difficulties for the child --aversion to having another child for the mother *In some cases, psychosis occurs where a woman if not taken into medical care, becomes a danger to herself and those around her. Features of the Campaign:
Thus the campaign will focus on sending out information consistently on Perinatal Mental Health facts, signs to look out for, trigger, symptoms, where to get help. The campaign will also post stories from women who have experienced these disorders, unfavorable birth stories and also stories of women who may have been helped if people had known better.
Women and girls will also be encouraged to share their own stories through sending directly to me, whether they would like them to be made public or confidential, as a way of giving them an ear and also giving them a way to participate in creating awareness.
The ultimate goal is for Mental Health and Dignity to be incorporated into ante and postnatal health care. If we can cause enough talk about the subject, we change will be inevitable. Currently, the focus is on the baby being birthed alive, regardless of what it takes. Both women and their children are being left emotionally scarred in many instances. Participants will be given a chance to also communicate and discuss what they feel is important for them to feel they have had the best birthing experience they think they could have. Media: I will use videos to enhance the participants experience in the campaign. Partnering: Aside from the Worldpulse community, I am seeking partnerships (involvement) from different organizations that are already established for this campaign, that are in the following sectors - violence/ abuse against women and girls ( local organisation) - birth education ( international organization) - family counseling( local organisation) - postpartum depression ( international organisation) - child abuse ( local) -Mental health ( local) I intend to largely Campaign through Facebook, because it is the most commonly used Social Media Forum in Zimbabwe. Potential Barriers & Solutions 1. Healthcare workers taking offense with the call for accountability Solution- include in the campaign, acknowledgement of their strained working conditions and how training in stress management can assist both the workers and the patients. 2. Ministry shunning the campaign, on the presumption that establishment and improving of service channels will require money. Solution- Highlighting cost effective mechanisms, as used in other developing countries, to address perinatal well being. 3. Facebook not being accessible to every woman/girl Solution- according to Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, the literacy rate in Zimbabwe, was 97% of people over 15 in 2011, so the higher likelihood is that those who come into contact with the campaign will understand and hopefully pass on the information to anyone else they think may need to know.
While the target audience is women in Zimbabwe, I believe the information will benefit anyone who lends their attention to the campaign. Your participation will go a long way in improving the experiences of women, girls and children, unheard.
How to Get Involved
Participation in the PONA campaign on Facebook, once it is launched.
Stories concerning perinatal mental health and birthing experiences will also be appreciated.