Ntinda, Kampala – Maternal Mental Health problems in most communities in Uganda continue to rise, with the COVID-19 lockdown presenting a set of new challenges to new mothers, especially those in their teenage years.
Dr Loyce Faith Nangiro, a medical doctor at Amudat Hospital in the Karamoja sub-region of Uganda says most new mothers in the region are very young and give birth at a tender age, something that has affected their mental health.
“Most of the new mothers especially those who deliver at my hospital are very young and they experience motherhood at a tender age, mostly to men with many wives. With no activity to earn money from during the lockdown, they suffer mental breakdowns, depression and schizophrenia,” Dr Nangiro says.
The Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) is aware that motherhood is a new experience and it comes with its own challenges both mental and physical. If new mothers don’t get the support they need, they are likely to face mental health challenges.
The lockdown has increased the levels of stress, which has led to depression and mental breakdowns for them especially as they are locked down with their co-wives and husbands.
UGANET urges the government to come up with strong support systems within such communities through the health and social structures to give women prenatal and postnatal psychosocial support.
“We should prepare these mothers especially during antenatal care and tell them about the possible outcomes and what to expect as mothers so that they are aware of what motherhood entails before they give birth,” Dr Nangiro advises.
“We should also ensure continued psychological support in the communities to these mothers especially through community health workers like the Village Health Teams (VHTs),” she adds.
Additionally, women groups in churches and the community can offer social support and they should be strengthened to reassure and help the new mothers to cope with motherhood. Motherhood is a tough experience for many new mothers. It is important that they receive the necessary psychosocial support to ensure that their me