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FLO presentation at the Perinatal Mental Health workshop

In July, the Le Va team joined about eight other presenters for a one-day Perinatal Mental Health workshop at the University of Auckland, East Tamaki Campus. 

The workshop, organised by the Perinatal Mental Health New Zealand Trust and TAHA Well Pacific Mother and Infant Service, aimed to enable community perinatal mental health providers including midwifes, GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers and NGOs to connect, explore the issues and hear the latest research and best practice. 

Le Va team members – Leilani Clarke and Denise Kingi-‘Ulu’ave – were invited to present on Le Va’s  Pasifika suicide prevention programme FLO: Pasifika for Life which was particularly relevant for the workshop given recent maternal mortality findings.  

The recently released ‘9th Perinatal & Maternal Mortality Review Committee Report 2015’ identified that suicide continues to be the leading ‘single’ cause of maternal death in New Zealand.  In regards to maternal mortality, the report also showed some concerning information.

In 2013, there were 12 maternal deaths.

Maternal suicide was seven times more common in New Zealand than in the UK.

The maternal mortality ratio for Maori and Pasifika mothers is two to three times that of other mothers in NZ. The relative maternal mortality ratios for direct and indirect deaths were 3.2 and 2.9, demonstrating that the disparity between maternal mortality among Maori and Pasifika peoples at highest risk and other ethnicities is not affected by whether the maternal deaths were direct or indirect”.


Several recommendations from the report in regards to maternal suicide include integrating maternal mental health services into maternal services and that antenatal screening should document any mental health history to identify women who are at increased risk of mental illness. 

We look forward to hearing more about the progress being made to reduce maternal mortality in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

About the author •
Denise is responsible for providing clinical leadership, direction and oversight across Le Va’s programmes. She has served the community in her extensive career as a clinical psychologist and in service roles within the health sector.

Covid-19 Update

Face-to-face workshops will not continue while New Zealand is at Level 4. We will be in contact with all participants soon.