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But what about us? Partner and family experiences of perinatal mental health care

Lever Taylor, Billie; (2020) But what about us? Partner and family experiences of perinatal mental health care. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Partners and wider families play a vital role in relation to women’s perinatal mental health. Clinical guidelines in the UK and internationally recommend that services treating women with perinatal mental health difficulties involve and support their families too. Yet, little is known about experiences of family inclusion in practice. I set out to address this. This thesis was connected to a wider study exploring experiences of perinatal mental health care in England. The broader study (for which I was the main researcher) included semi-structured interviews with 52 women who received treatment for a perinatal mental health difficulty, and 32 partners/family members identified by the women as offering them some support. I included questions within these 84 interviews about how services work with partners and families and examined responses using dyadic and thematic analysis. I found that families and family dynamics are central to understanding women’s perinatal mental health and interactions with services. Although it was the women who were diagnosed with perinatal mental health problems, their difficulties were often embedded within a complex and fraught interpersonal and wider social context. Yet instead of seeking to understand perinatal distress within this broader context – or critiquing the structures and gender norms that contributed to producing and maintaining it – services tended to focus on individual women (and babies), marginalising their families and diverting attention from the need for broader social change. The complexity of involving and supporting partners and wider families, coupled with anxiety about this among women and their families, reinforced the tendency to exclude families. I conclude that involving women’s families and providing the support they need is challenging but important. Services need to find ways to overcome barriers to family inclusion and to proactively challenge problematic gender norms and expectations, rather than allowing these to shape and guide practice.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: But what about us? Partner and family experiences of perinatal mental health care
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10092346
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