It’s long been understood that a good start in life is important, but now a growing body of research demonstrates how significant parental mental health in particular is to long-term family and whānau wellbeing. Mental distress during the perinatal period (from the beginning of pregnancy until a year after birth) can have severe long-term consequences, not only for parents in distress, but also for their babies.
This is a concerning finding at a time when DHBs report increasing complexity of maternal mental health needs and high unmet need for support. However, it also presents an important opportunity: if we can understand what contributes to this distress, and put in place policies to actively remove or alleviate it, we can not only support mothers and parents who are struggling, but also significantly improve intergenerational outcomes – a critical public policy challenge and the subject of a current Productivity Commission inquiry.
Associate Fellow Holly Walker has been leading our research in this area. In April 2022 we published our report, Āhurutia Te Rito, looking at what contributes to perinatal distress in Aotearoa New Zealand and identifying opportunities to better support new parents and their babies. It focused in particular on how to support and enable community-led solutions. You can read the report here. On 28th July we hosted a public webinar to share key insights and recommendations from this report.
In September 2022 we hosted a policy roundtable. Our goal was to support policy change that restores and enhances the special status of parents, pēpī, and whānau at this crucial time. You can see some of the outcomes here.
"*" indicates required fields