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Perinatal mental health and Islam

02 December 2017
Volume 25 · Issue 12


Approximately 20% of women in the UK experience perinatal mental health issues, making it a common problem. Islam is the second largest religion worldwide; however, there is little discussion surrounding the religion and perinatal mental health. This article aims to discuss the causes of perinatal mental illness in the context of Islam, which may offer some insight into the influence of religious beliefs on mental health. In turn, this may aid health professionals to have a deeper understanding and awareness when caring for Muslim women.

Islam is the fastest growing religion globally. There are currently 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide and this is projected to increase by 70%, so that, by 2060, Muslims will account for 3 billion of the global population (Pew Research Center, 2017). Here in the UK, the number of people who identify as Muslim has increased from 3.0% to 4.8%, or a population of 2.7 million people, making Islam the second largest religion in the UK (Office of National Statistics (ONS), 2011).

Perinatal mental health manifests as depression, anxiety disorders and postpartum psychosis. These disorders can occur throughout the childbirth continuum; both during pregnancy and up to the first year postpartum. Approximately 20% of women experience perinatal mental illness in the UK, making perinatal mental health a common issue (O'Hara and Wisner, 2014).

The number of perinatal mental health services sadly does not meet the prevalence of the illness, with less than half of mental health Trusts providing a specialised perinatal mental health team staffed by a lead consultant perinatal psychiatrist (Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health, 2012). While some Trusts will have access to this service, others will have to rely upon adult mental health services alone in order to adapt their approach to a maternity situation.

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