The Experiences and Understanding of Psychological Distress in the Pre- and Post-Natal Period Among Sikh Punjabi Women Living in the UK
Grewal, Jasdeep Kaur
There is increasing interest in the NHS to better cater to diverse needs. However, the literature exploring the perinatal mental health (PMH) experiences of specific ethnic groups is scarce. This is the first study to explicitly explore Sikh Punjabi women’s stories of perinatal psychological distress, and how they make sense of and navigate their experiences. Semi-structured narrative interviews were conducted with four Sikh Punjabi women, born in the UK, between the ages of 30-40, and had given birth within the last ten years. Using narrative analysis, three main storylines (Stories of Changes; Stories of Challenges; Stories of Growth) and seven sub-storylines (Self as (new) mother; Faith versus medical narratives; Making sense of motherhood; Stories of the unspeakable; Stories of resolution; Collective recovery; Stories of transformation) were identified across the accounts. Key narrative themes included maternal guilt, self-blame, stigma, shame, and social isolation. The model of perinatal psychological distress is proposed. Three out of four mothers spoke about having experienced thoughts of ending their own life. None received adequate professional support. The findings indicate that racially minoritised mothers that require perinatal support are not receiving it. This implies that we have a long way to go before the ambitions set out in the NHS long-term plan for the provision of inclusive perinatal support are achieved. Improvements are required across perinatal and related settings. Recommendations and suggestions informed by the participants accounts are offered, including ideas for addressing barriers to help-seeking and resources for staff training. Future research ideas are proposed.
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