Short Message Service (SMS) mental health promotion and prevention messages are a non-intrusive, cost-effective way to provide support to parents experiencing moderate to severe mental health challenges in the perinatal period, particularly in rural and remote areas.
SMS Support for Regional and Rural Parents Experiencing Perinatal Mental Health Challenges
Use of mobile phones to send information and resource weblinks to parents with perinatal mental illness.
- Encourages patients, partners and families to look after their mental wellbeing.
- Provides a platform for delivering important information, resources and access to support in areas where it may be scarce.
- Information can be read when convenient, allow confidentiality and avoid potential stigma.
The SMS4Parents research project in rural and regional Queensland tested the feasibility of using mental health promotion and prevention text messages with new mothers diagnosed with perinatal mental illness and their partners. The trial was run for 12 months and involved approximately 67 couples from across the Darling Downs and Townsville regions, with the cooperation of the Perinatal Adult Mental Health Services. Parents could receive text messages from 26 weeks of pregnancy until their baby was 6 months old.
Text messages are delivered to participant’s mobile phones, encouraging parents to look after their mental health, identify ways to connect with their infant and provide links to assistance information and resources.
Feedback from participants to date indicates the messages are relevant, are supportive, contain relevant and useful information, and normalise the pregnancy and new parenting experience. The message content and theme in particular, were reported to be timed well according to weeks of pregnancy and following the birth of a baby until the baby was six months old. Many participants reported the messages would be very helpful and useful for all new parents.
SMS Messages are an effective and efficient method of delivering important information and support for expecting and new parents who are at risk of or experiencing mental health issues and are isolated.
Bilszta, J. L. C., Gu, Y. Z., Meyer, D., & Buist, A. E. (2008). A geographic comparison of the prevalence and risk factors for postnatal depression in an Australian population. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 32, 424–430.
Beck, C. T. (1998). The effects of Postpartum Depression on Child Development: a meta-analysis. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 12(1).
Cornish, A. M., McMahon, C. A., Ungerer, J. A., Barnett, B., Kowalenko, n., & Tennant, C. (2005). Postnatal depression and infant cognitive and motor development in the second postnatal year: the impact of depression chronicity and infant gender. Infant Behaviour and Development 28(4), 407-417.
Davis, R.N., Davis, M.M., Freed,G.L., Clark, S.J. (2011). Fathers' Depression Related to Positive and Negative Parenting Behaviors With 1-Year-Old Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, April; 127 (4):612-618.
Downey, G., & Coyne, J. c. (1990). Children of Depressed Parents: An integrative Review. . Psychological Bulletin, 108(1), 50-76.
Field, T. (2010). Postpartum Depression Effects on Early Interactions, Parenting, and Safety Practices: A review. Infant Behaviour and Development, 33(6).
Fletcher, R. J., Feeman, E., Garfield, C., & Vimpani, G. (2011). The effects of early paternal depression on children’s development. Medical Journal of Australia, 195, 685–689.
Fletcher, R., May, C., Lambkin, F-K, Gemmill, A., Cann, W., Nicholson, J.M., Rawlinson, C., Milgrom, J., Highet, N., Foureur, M., Ben-nett, E., & Skinner, G. (2016). SMS4dads: Providing information and support to new fathers through mobile phones – a pilot study. Advances in Mental Health. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18387357.2016.1245586
Fletcher, R., May, C., Wroe, J., Hall, P., Cooke, D., Rawlinson, C., ... & Kelly, B. (2016). Development of a set of mobile phone text messages designed for new fathers. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 34(5), 525-534.
Free,C., Phillips, G., Galli,L., Watson, L., Felix, L., Edwards,P., Patel, V., Haines, A. (2013).
The Effectiveness of Mobile-Health Technology-Based Health Behaviour Change or Disease Management Interventions for Health Care Consumers: A Systematic Review. PLOS medicine, Jan;10(1):1-45.
Halligan, S. L., Murray, L., Martins, C., & Cooper, P. J. (2007). Maternal depression and psychiatric outcomes in adolescent offspring: A 13 year longitudinal study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 97, 145-154.
Head, K.J., Noar, S.M., Iannarino, N.T., Grant-Harrington, N. (2013). Efficacy of text messaging-based interventions for health promotion: a meta-analysis. Social Science and Medicine, 97:41–48.
McMahon, C., Barnett, B., Kowalenko, N., & Tennant, C. (2005). Psychological factors associated with persistent postnatal depression: Past and current relationships, defence styles and the mediating role of insecure attachment style. Journal of Affective Disorders, 84, 15–24.
O'Brien, A. P., McNeil, K. A., Fletcher, R., Conrad, A., Wilson, A. J., Jones, D., & Chan, S. W. (2016). New Fathers' Perinatal Depression and Anxiety - Treatment Options: An Integrative Review. American Journal of Men's Health. doi:10.1177/1557988316669047 http://jmh.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/10/06/1557988316669047
Paulson, J. F., & Bazemore, S. D. (2010). Prenatal and postpartum depression in fathers and its association with maternal depression: A meta-analysis. JAMA, 303, 1961–1969.
Paulson, J. F., Dauber, S., & Leiferman, J. A. (2006). Individual and combined effects of postpartum depression in mothers and fathers on parenting behavior. Pediatrics, 118, 659–668.
PANDA (2013). http://www.panda.org.au/practical-information/information-for-men
Ramchandani, P. G., Stein, A., O’Connor, T. G., Heron, J. O. N., Murray, L., & Evans, J. (2008). Depression in men in the postnatal period and later child psychopathology: A population cohort study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 47, 390–398.
Sethna, V., Murray, L., Ramchandani, P.G. (2012). Depressed fathers' speech to their 3-month-old infants: a study of cognitive and mentalizing features in paternal speech. Psychological Medicine, Nov;42(11):2361-71. Epub 2012 Apr 13.
Velders, F.P., Dieleman, G., Henrichs, J., Jaddoe, V.W., Hofman, A., Verhulst, F.C., Hudziak, J.J., Tiemeier, H. (2011). Prenatal and postnatal psychological symptoms of parents and family functioning: the impact on child emotional and behavioural problems. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Jul;20(7):341-50. Epub 2011 Apr 27.