Preventing Postpartum Mental Health Problems

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Title: Exploring challenges and opportunities for technology design to address and prevent postpartum mental health problems

Mentor: Dr. Sabirat Rubya

Summary: Postpartum mood disorders represent a major public health issue in the USA affecting between 10% and 20% of mothers. Pregnancy and stressors related to caring for a newborn may increase the risk of poor mental health among women, which in turn may have serious detrimental effects on the health and well-being of the mother and her child. Approximately 1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression. The negative effects of postpartum depression on child growth and development, both immediate and long lasting, include impaired attachment, behavior problems, social and cognitive limitations, and low self-esteem. While many studies have been conducted on the prevalence, risk factors and successful treatment rates of it, very few studies have focused on the role of technology to address and meet the mental health needs during postpartum. The goal of this study is to develop a better understanding of maternal postpartum mental health and to design mHealth technology that they will be able to use for assessing and dealing with their mental health problems. Students on this project will conduct interviews and surveys on new mothers to understand their mental health needs and strategies for help-seeking. They may also have the opportunity to develop and prototype new system design ideas for improving postpartum mental health and wellbeing based on research findings.

Preferred Skills (not required): • Interest in developing interviewing and survey design skills • Experience with statistical analysis techniques or packages such as R • Qualitative analysis • Low and high fidelity prototyping