Koi Tū warmly congratulates Holly Walker and Mahi a Rongo | The Helen Clark Foundation on the release of their report, Āhurutia Te Rito | It takes a village.
This report, which examines some of the key risk factors underlying perinatal mental distress in expectant and new parents in Aotearoa, and sets out policy recommendations that could help improve perinatal mental wellbeing, is extremely timely and exceedingly important. Poor parental mental health is a critical public health issue that may affect not only the parents themselves but also their babies; these effects can pass across generations and become embedded within whānau and wider society.
For example, previously published work by Koi Tū has shown how babies whose mothers were depressed during pregnancy tend to develop poorer brain function, with lifelong and intergenerational impact. An upcoming Koi Tū evidence brief also highlights how parental mental distress may affect bonding with the child, again with long-term effects.
The findings of Āhurutia Te Rito reinforce the importance of confronting the challenges posed by perinatal mental distress in Aotearoa in order to break the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage. We strongly support this work and encourage further discourse on this important issue.