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7th February, 2022

Using music to support maternal mental health in The Gambia

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Event Details

7th February, 2022
13:15 - 14:30

Mental health problems in the perinatal period are a particular challenge in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and can affect the mother and her developing child. It is thus of high priority to develop new low-cost, non-stigmatising and culturally appropriate approaches to support maternal mental health.

Music-centred approaches may be particularly useful in The Gambia since a range of musical practices that specifically engage pregnant women and new mothers already exist and musical practices surrounding health and social relationships are commonplace.

First, this talk will discuss a research study that aimed to investigate the feasibility of implementing a community health intervention through music engagement (CHIME) to reduce symptoms of perinatal common mental disorders in The Gambia.

Women in the intervention group (n = 50) participated in a weekly hour-long music session with their local Kanyeleng group (all female fertility societies) while the control group (n = 74) received standard care.

Results showed that this type of approach was not only enjoyable, culturally acceptable, and feasible but also showed signs of a beneficial effect through the reduction of antenatal anxiety and depression symptoms.

Second, this talk will introduce a public engagement project which was undertaken to commission popular local male musicians (Jaliba Kuyateh and Martin Lyrix King) to create and perform new musical material to inform the wider community about the importance of maternal mental health and the role that partners can have in supporting women during pregnancy and after birth. The musicians shared the songs on a caravan tour, a popular radio station and the local TV stations.

A thematic analysis of focus group discussions held after the performances (n = 50) illustrated that the messages were important and relevant, the music allowed for difficult subjects around mental health and relationships to be discussed more openly, and the use of well-respected musicians was important.

Overall, this talk will give two examples of the potential ways music-based activities might be used to support maternal mental health across The Gambia and potentially other LMICs where the musical and cultural context affords this.

Presenter: Katie Rose Sanfilippo

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