The three-day conference on perinatal mental health was flagged off with poems about the mother and the child, followed by a welcome address by Dr Prabha Chandra, joint organizer of the conference and Prof Jane Fisher, president of the Marce Society. Plenary speakers and eminent guests included Dr Ajit Bhide, president of the Indian Psychiatric Society, Dr Vijay Rosh president elect of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Dr Jayashri Kulkarni from Monash University, Australia, Dr Sybil Tschudin, president of Psychosomatic Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Dr Shobha Gudi from the Bangalore Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Dr Ajith Bhide said, “Perinatal psychiatry is everybody's business.” Dr Sybil Tschudin emphasized that the conference was an opportunity to build bridges between communities.
Dr. Shobha Gudi underlined the need – particularly in India– to ramp up efforts in the field of mental health, especially perinatal mental health.
The flag off and welcome address was followed by a lucid and brief talk on 'Perinatal depression in Women' by Sherryl Goodman where she spoke about the issues related to perinatal depression, types of parenting, and focused on the effectiveness of the Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in treating post-partum depression and reducing the rates of relapse.
This was followed by atalk on 'Suicide and deliberate self-harm in women' as seen in India and the world, by Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar.
Dr Vijayakumar presented statistics that drew the contrast between suicide risk for women in developed countries versus those in low income countries. India and China together account for close to 60 per cent of suicides among women globally while having only 30 per cent population of women.
The introductory session ended with a virtual talk on 'Maternal Depression Globally’ by Atif Rahman where he busted a number of highly prevalent myths concerning perinatal mental health. “Perinatal mental health care needs to be taken to the grassroots. Community mental health workers and peer support groups can be trained to offer effective intervention,” he said.