World Maternal Mental Health Day -1 May

Today we stand united to observe World Maternal Mental Health Day.

Observed every year since 2016, this has become an annual day dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues so that more mother’s will realise they are not alone and receive help.

Founded by a multidisciplinary group of passionate activists, cliniticians and people who have lived through personal experiences of Maternal Mental Health issues.

Almost 140 organisations from 37 countries have united today to raise awareness about Maternal Mental Health and why addressing this issue matters.

On the World Maternal Mental Health Day Facebook page you can read about the wonderful services many terrific organisations around the world are offering Free to mom’s from journaling sessions in the USA to social media campaigns in Japan and Botswana.

Read more here World Maternal Mental Health Day

Understanding Maternal Mental Health

It’s believed that 70% of women suffering from poor maternal mental health hide their symptoms.

Pregnancy and birth are vulnerable times for women as they transition into motherhood and adjust to life, physical and emotional changes.

These challenges and rapid changes put every women at risk for developing mental health issues.

Mental health does not discriminate.

Whilst all women are at risk the following factors greatly influence a new mother’s mental health :-

  • Traumatic birth
  • Still birth
  • Miscarriage
  • Infertility
  • Stress
  • Poverty
  • Previous mental health issues
  • Birth injury
  • Lack of support systems
  • Isolation

A new mom may be ecstatic with her new baby but suddenly overwhelmed by :-

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Inability to cope
  • Thoughts of self harm
  • Or thoughts of hurting her baby

As mom’s these feelings may also come and go but any emotions or negative thoughts that persist are a cause for concern.

Most mother’s are aware of the term Post Natal Depression and understand what the warning signs are but it’s important to understand that Maternal Mental Health is a much broader topic.

Some maternal mental health facts

Whilst the new mother may experience the symptoms, Maternal Mental Health actually affects the entire family and can have devastating effects and consequences if not addressed and treated correctly.

The following statistics should speak for themselves as to the importance of addressing Maternal Mental Health correctly.

  • Between 50-80% of new mother’s experience the baby blues within the first 5 days after birth.
  • 1 in 5 mother’s is at risk of developing mental health challenges during or after their pregnancy.
  • Post Natal Depression is the most common problem associated with childbirth.
  • Suicide is one of the leading causes in maternal death.
  • Perinatal depression that is left untreated will have a long lasting impression on a child,their relationship with their mother and their own mental health.
  • Men can also suffer from post natal depression.

Why women don’t seek help

During pregnancy we continue to tell women how blessed they are and what a wonderful experience becoming a mother is, leading new mother’s who do not feel that rush of love and euphoria to feel shamefull for not feeling like this is the best time of their life.

Couple this with the negative stigma surrounding mental health and we have a group of woman bravely trying to daily navigate their symptoms whilst hiding their need for help.

Taking these two factors into consideration you can both understand why mom’s don’t seek help and the importance of educating , supporting and raising awareness of the importance of seeking help at this time.

Finding help

Maternal Mental Health issues are treatable and recovery time is usually faster than any other mental health issues.

  • The first step to find help is to acknowledge the problem.
  • Next find someone you trust, a partner, friend, family member or health professional.
  • Be honest about how you feel. Ask the person you trust to just listen.
  • Book an appointment with a doctor as soon as you can. Again be honest about your emotions and experience. A doctor can only work with the information given to them.
  • Your doctor’s may refer you to counsellors or support groups that will assist you.
  • Acknowledge that you are not a bad mom for seeking help. You are infact doing the best for yourself and your child.

    Where to find help

    The following organisations can assist you:

    Cape mental health

    Mental Health South Africa

    The South African Depression and Anxiety group

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