BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Mental illness is increasingly recognized as a global health problem. However, in many countries, including Nepal, it is difficult to talk about mental health problems due to the stigma associated with it. Hence a training programme was developed to train auxiliary nurse midwives, who otherwise are not trained in mental health as part of their pre-registration training in rural Nepal, on issues related to maternal mental health. After the training programme a selection of auxiliary nurse midwives were interviewed to establish their views on the training, its usefulness and ways to improve it.
METHODS: This qualitative study reports on the analysis of interviews conducted with auxiliary nurse midwives who participated in the training programme. The interviews addressed issues associated with the training programme as well as perceptions around mental health in rural Nepal. Transcripts were thematically analysed.
RESULTS: Three themes emerged from analysis: (1) issues related to training; (2) societal attitudes; and (3) support for women. The 'training' theme describes the benefits and limitations of training sessions. 'Societal attitudes' describes society's attitude towards mental health which is largely negative. 'Support' describes the positive behaviour and attitude towards pregnant women and new mothers.
CONCLUSION: The study supports the need for continued training for auxiliary nurse midwives who are based in the community. This gives them the opportunity to reach the whole community group and potentially have influence over reduction of stigma; offer support and diagnosis of mental ill-health. There is still stigma around giving birth to a female child which can lead to mental health problems. It is imperative to increase awareness and educate the general public regarding mental health illnesses especially involving family members of those who are affected.