Implementing innovative evidence-based perinatal mental health screening for women of refugee background Academic Article uri icon


  • PROBLEM:National guidelines recommend repeated screening for depression and anxiety for all women in the perinatal period. Routine screening in pregnancy is limited due to service, community and individual barriers. BACKGROUND:Perinatal depression and perinatal anxiety affect up to 20% of all women. Women of refugee background are at even greater risk for perinatal mental health conditions due to refugee experiences and resettlement stressors. AIM:To evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of a perinatal mental health screening program for women of refugee background from the perspective of health professionals. METHODS:A mixed methods design guided by the Normalization Process Theory was used. Data were collected at a dedicated refugee antenatal clinic in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. An online survey (n=38), focus groups (n=2; 13 participants) and semi-structured interviews (n=8; 11 participants) with health professionals were conducted. FINDINGS:Under the four constructs of the Normalization Process Theory, health professionals reported improvements in identifying and referring women with mental health issues, more open and in-depth conversations with women about mental health and valued using an evidenced-based measure. Key issues included professional development, language barriers and time constraints. DISCUSSION:Implementing a perinatal mental health screening program has been positively received. Strategies for sustainability include professional development and the addition of audio versions of the measures. CONCLUSION:This perinatal mental health screening program is acceptable and a feasible option for health professionals. Health professionals value providing more holistic care and have more open discussion with women about mental health.


  • Willey, Suzanne M
  • Gibson-Helm, Melanie E
  • Finch, Tracy L
  • East, Christine E
  • Khan, Nadia N
  • Boyd, Leanne M
  • Boyle, Jacqueline A

publication date

  • 2020

has subject area