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Maternal mental health - Tools

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The Whooley questions were introduced by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE 2007) when they reviewed their guidelines for Antenatal and Postnatal Mental Health. You can expect to be asked these questions at regular intervals by health professionals both antenatally and postnatally.

The questions are a screening tool which is designed to try and identify two symptoms that may be present in depression.

NICE recommends that health care professionals ask two questions at a woman’s booking visit with the Midwife, twice more during pregnancy, at the Health Visitor’s first visit, six weeks post natal, three months postnatal, and eight months to one year postnatal.

The questions are as follows:

During the past month have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?

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During the past month have you often been bothered by little interest or pleasure in doing things?

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If you feel this is something you would like further support with, please contact your Health Visitor or GP.

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A third question should be considered if a woman answers “yes” to either of the initial questions.

3. Is this something you feels you need or want help with?

If the health professional has any concerns about mental health or low mood or they receive positive responses to the Whooley questions they may use a questionnaire called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPNDS).

It is recognised as a useful tool to aid and improve the detection of postnatal depression. The score is not the most important outcome of using this scale; it is to initiate discussion and further assessment.

The EPNDS has been validated for use by health professionals to assist in the detection of postnatal depression. It is a rating questionnaire measuring the frequency of some symptoms relating to depressed mood and anxiety. It can also be used to review progress over time.

If you think you would like to explore your feelings and consider whether you need to seek additional support please call and make an appointment with your Health Visitor.

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