Text messages can support new mums with post-natal depression

Text messages could provide help for new mothers living with post-natal depression, new research published in the JMIR Mental Health journal reveals.

A team of researchers from Saint Louis University in the US sent 4,158 text messages to 54 mothers at risk from developing post-natal depression over a six-month period. Each mother received four messages a week – none of them were personalised and everyone received the same text, reports nursingtimes.net.

Some of the messages required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, for example, one asked whether the mother wanted a phone call. Alternatively, the mother could text back the word ‘help’ to receive further assistance. Other messages were simply motivational or provided useful tips, such as: “Having a routine is comforting for babies”, reports medicaldaily.com.

The vast majority (82 per cent) of mothers said they found the messages personally relevant to their needs. Dr Matthew A. Broom, a physician at Cardinal Glennon and lead author of the study, said that text messages could prove to be especially useful for low-income mothers, as they’re a cheaper alternative to traditional techniques.

“Moms that are well from a mental health perspective have children with better developmental outcomes,” he explained. “If we can provide more support and services for the high-risk mothers we serve, we will be able to create a greater positive impact for their children.”