ABRSM(Mother Infant Mental Health Research and Application Center) - Director’s Message

Maternal Mental Health refers to the mental well-being of the mother during the so-called Perinatal Period, including the first year after birth, starting from pregnancy planning. As the psychological problems that may be experienced in this process affect the mother as well as her baby, the results are not limited to this period, but the future generations are also impressive. Research shows that the mother's mental illness can have negative emotional, physical and developmental consequences during infancy and childhood.

Infant Mental Health covers the social and emotional development of the baby from birth to the age of three and diseases that affect it. Starting from the period to fertilization until the age of three is a critical period in which the foundations of life and mental, physical, social and cognitive development are laid. Therefore, protection of maternal and infant mental health during pregnancy and 0-3 years of infancy and providing treatment of mental illnesses of the mother are considered to be the key to prevent physical and mental disorders that may occur throughout life.

Psychological problems are common in the perinatal period, which is critical for both mother and infants. On average, one in five women has a mental health problem during this period. Prenatal and postnatal depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and postpartum psychosis are the main ones. Attachment problems between the mother and the infant and its negative impact on adult life are also undesirable.

Depression, in this period is one of the leading emerging mental illness in Turkey every year nearly 300,000 women and infants are affected by depression after the birth of couples.

Although depression may be negative or destructive in every period of life, timely diagnosis and treatment should be emphasized as the effects on both the mother and the developing baby affect the pregnancy and postpartum period. Suicide may be the most important pregnancy complication in the postpartum period. Most maternal suicides in the last 20 years are preventable maternal deaths, and suicide is one of the leading causes of maternal deaths in the first year after birth.

Although depression and other mental illnesses have acute and long-term adverse effects, 7 out of 10 mothers cannot receive treatment. Both health-related and social and economic consequences of untreated mental illnesses reveal a very serious picture. The total annual cost of mental health problems at birth in the UK is estimated at £ 8.1 billion. It has been found that 72% of this cost is associated with the long-term negative consequences of maternal untreated mental illness in infants.

Studies on mother-infant mental health were first started in France in 1818, and serious progress has been made in the provision of specialized mother-infant mental health services in many countries of the world. However, the needs have not been met at the desired level yet, in many countries, especially in developed countries, campaigns for the detection, education and treatment of mental disorders related to pregnancy and childbirth, state and private institution investments and special units are being established. In our country, there is a great need for studies to be carried out in interdisciplinary cooperation in this field.

Our center will be a platform for dialogue, research, development and implementation that works in accordance with science standards for future generations of mothers and babies of today, taking into account the needs of our country in the light of international knowledge and developments.

Prof. Nazan AYDIN

MIMHRAC Director