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Barriers to and facilitators of military spouses’ recovery from perinatal mental health disorders: A qualitative study

APA Citation:

Nguyen, M. H., Semino-Asaro, S., Reminick, A. M., Rukaj, A. T., & Connelly, C. D. (2023). Barriers to and facilitators of military spouses’ recovery from perinatal mental health disorders: A qualitative study. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health, 9(4), 77-87. https://doi.org/10.3138/jmvfh-2022-0067

Abstract Created by REACH:

The purpose of this study was to investigate military wives’ experiences with accessing and participating in treatment for mental illnesses experienced during pregnancy up to a year postpartum (termed perinatal mental health disorders, PMHD). The experiences of 12 military wives were captured through 5 semi-structured focus groups focusing on experiences with PMHD. Facilitators and barriers to treatment and recovery were identified.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Spouse of service member or veteran


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Qualitative Study


Nguyen, My Hanh, Semino-Asaro, Semira, Reminick, Alison M., Rukaj, Amber T., Connelly, Cynthia D.


Perinatal mental health disorders (PMHDs) are a common complication of child-bearing that affect about one in seven mothers in the United States. Military life often involves recurring separations from family as a result of deployments. Although much research has focused on how PMHDs affect military families, little is known about military spouses’ experiences in recovering from PMHDs. This qualitative study centred on barriers to and facilitators of PMHD recovery among U.S. female military spouses. Semi-structured focus groups revealed five main barriers (stigma, impacts on servicemember’s career, lack of support, accessibility, practical and logistical concerns) and three main facilitators (solid support structure, encouragement to seek help, practical and logistical facilitators). Identifying specific barriers to and facilitators of PMHD recovery among military spouses promotes military family psychological health and wellness.

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


access to care, health care system, mental health care, military families, perinatal mood disorders, anxiety disorders, postpartum, postpartum depression, qualitative, stigma, United States

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  October 2023

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