The burden of pregnancy-related depression is unduly high in low- and middle-income countries, with nearly 20 percent of mothers experiencing post-partum depression. As a result, many affected mothers cannot fully care for children, negatively impacting their growth and development. Adolescents and young women in particular show high rates of pregnancy-related depression, yet few avenues exist for peer support or professional treatment. Prenatal check-ups tend to focus on physical care, as most health centres in low-resource settings do not have the capacity to provide maternal mental health counselling.
Using our own Social Innovation Fund, Scope will build off of the demonstrated success of in-person group antenatal care to support adolescents and young women with pregnancy-related depression. We will work with women and health care workers in low-resource settings to test a mobile solution that extends existing models of group care beyond health facilities, while helping health providers better understand the needs of new and expecting mothers. Initially targeted toward urban populations with smart phone access, the mobile app will leverage machine learning to provide customised information based on a women’s stage of pregnancy and assist in diagnosing depression cases. The app will also offer an online connection for women, enabling them to provide psychological support to each other. In addition, the app aims to reduce burdens on health care workers through an easy-to-follow protocol for identifying and referring patients with pregnancy-related depression.