Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Peer Support Programs in Perinatal Mental Health: Key Components Identified

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Parenthood, while often celebrated, can be a period of significant vulnerability, particularly for mothers. Research indicates that approximately one in five mothers experiences perinatal mental illness. In this context, peer support has been recommended for its preventive and therapeutic advantages. However, the specific components that make these programs effective have not been thoroughly identified until now.

Scope of the Review

A systematic literature review was conducted to identify and synthesize the components of peer support programs in perinatal mental health. The review, guided by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) and utilizing the Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) checklist, examined four databases and included hand searches. Through this process, eleven peer support programs were identified, primarily from English-speaking countries.

Key Findings

The review highlighted several critical components across the identified peer support programs. These included the contextual background of each program, materials used, training and support for providers, delivery modes and locations, and methods of evaluation. A common thread among these programs was the emphasis on sharing lived experiences and offering flexible support.

Market access considerations play a crucial role in the implementation and scaling of these peer support programs. The contextual background and delivery modes of the programs must be adaptable to different markets to ensure widespread accessibility. This adaptability includes considering the cultural and economic environments in which these programs will operate.

Concrete Inferences

Market Access Considerations:

  • Programs must be tailored to fit diverse cultural contexts to enhance accessibility and effectiveness.
  • Flexible support mechanisms are essential to address the unique needs of mothers in various market environments.
  • Provider training should incorporate market-specific challenges to ensure comprehensive support.
  • Evaluation methods need to be robust to validate the program’s effectiveness across different markets.

The study underscores the importance of flexibility and authenticity in peer support programs. It also highlights the challenges in evaluating these programs, which must be considered for future planning and implementation efforts. These findings offer valuable insights for stakeholders looking to expand market access for perinatal mental health support.

By synthesizing the critical components of existing peer support programs, this review provides a foundation for developing more effective and accessible interventions. This is particularly relevant for policymakers and healthcare providers aiming to enhance perinatal mental health services.

Original Article:

Front Psychiatry. 2024 Jun 20;15:1389545. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2024.1389545. eCollection 2024.

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BACKGROUND: Becoming a parent, while often perceived as a joyous event, can also be a vulnerable life transition, with approximately one in five mothers experiencing perinatal mental illness. Peer support is recommended for its preventive and therapeutic benefits. However, relevant program components of perinatal mental health peer support remain to be identified.

OBJECTIVES: This review aims to (1) identify peer support programs in perinatal mental health through existing reviews and to (2) synthesize the components of these programs.

METHODS: A systematic literature review guided by PRISMA was conducted searching four databases, supplemented by hand searches. The Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) checklist facilitated the systematic extraction and synthesis of program components.

RESULTS: Eleven peer support programs were identified from three reviews, largely conducted in English-speaking countries. The identified reviews highlight the benefits of peer support in perinatal mental health. Key components of individual programs were contextual background, materials, provider training and support, delivery modes and locations, and evaluation. Sharing lived experience and providing flexible support were central to all programs.

CONCLUSION: Aspects of flexibility, authenticity and the challenges of program evaluation in peer support must be considered. Findings can now inform future planning and implementation efforts of peer support programs in periantal mental health.

PMID:38966189 | PMC:PMC11223205 | DOI:10.3389/fpsyt.2024.1389545

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