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Maternal Mental Wellbeing Survey FAQ

What is the purpose of this survey?

We need your help to build a picture of the current state and future opportunities for maternal mental health specialist services, as part of a project to improve access for women/birthing parents, infants and whānau. This project focuses on the Central Region of the Lower North Island.

This project is guided by the Kahu Taurima approach to Maternity and Early Years, and Te Pae Tata (interim NZ Health Plan).

How will my information be used?

Any information you have shared with us will be gathered into a report to inform Mental Health commissioning teams, both nationally and locally, about maternal mental health services. The aim is to understand how things are working now, and what could be improved in the future, so that children, mothers/birthing parents, and whānau can easily access the specialist support they need, including specialist Māori services.  

We will not use any of your information for any other purpose, and we will delete it at the end of the project in December 2023.  We will not copy, or share your details with any other people or services. We will keep the information in a secure online site, in a password protected spreadsheet until we delete it.

We will not share any identifying information on any participants in any reporting shared internally at Te Whatu Ora or externally.

Who is leading the project?

The Central Region Mental Health Addiction and Intellectual Disability Services (MHAIDS) leadership forum is responsible for the delivery of the project report to the Te Whatu Ora National Mental Health Commissioning Team. The project manager Jess Sandbrook is managing the programme and developing the report.

How are you making sure this work is inclusive and equitable?

We want to hear from people from all walks of life, to help us understand the experiences of people from different communities in Aotearoa. 

An advisory group has been formed of people who have different equity perspectives, to make sure the work programme and final report have a focus on equity. Any information you give us will also be analysed from an equity perspective.

Will the results be published?

An executive summary report will be published and made available on our website when it’s complete in January 2024.

Will any changes be made as a result of this project, and if so, when?

Te Whatu Ora is committed to making changes that improve access to our maternal mental health services, and your experiences are very important to help inform these changes.

Te Whatu Ora plan to start to make some changes to maternal mental health services across Aotearoa New Zealand in June next year.  In some places this may mean employing more staff, or it may mean changing the way services can be accessed, or it could be an innovative new way of helping people with perinatal mental health problems.

Can I share my story as a health professional?

The project team is seeking input from professionals and service users to help us understand current services and help identify opportunities for the future.

This work will benefit future services by improving the pathways for families/ whānau to gain access to the best service option for their need.

People can participate by having a kōrero with the project lead, or by completing an online survey to help inform the report.

Contact Jessica Sandbrook at or phone 027 540 1771.

What is Mental Wellbeing?

Mental wellbeing is one component of broader wellbeing. Positive mental wellbeing is most likely when people feel safe, connected, valued, worthy and accepted, have a sense of belonging, identity, and hope for the future. Mental wellbeing means being able to adapt and cope with life and life’s challenges and feeling that your life has meaning, as well as experiencing feelings of contentment or general happiness.

What is maternal mental health and what is perinatal mental health?

The terms perinatal and maternal are often used interchangeably. ‘Peri’ is the Latin for “around,” and ‘natal’ is the Latin for “birth.” So perinatal mental health refers to mental health during pregnancy and the first postnatal years.

What is Perinatal Distress?

Perinatal Distress can be used as an umbrella term to capture the range of symptoms women experience. Distress most often manifests as depression, but women also frequently exhibit anxiety and may suffer from obsessive-compulsive traits, bipolar disorder or, more rarely, psychosis.

What is Infant Mental Health?

Infant mental wellbeing is inextricably linked to their attachment bond with their caregiver. “Babies are born socially interactive and the way in which their psychological, emotional, and social development unfolds is largely dependent upon the nature of their early relationships. Infants have an innate drive to connect with others, and the perinatal period is a key window of opportunity to promote the type of sensitive caregiving that will optimise their neurological, and emotional development” (2) (The Royal College of Midwives 2021)

Last updated 4 December 2023.