The pen pal network serves as a vital source of support for incarcerated women who believe they’ve suffered from postpartum mental illness. The majority of the penpal members believe they experienced postpartum psychosis, and many are serving sentences for committing infanticide. The network aims to connect women who have experienced the worst consequences of postpartum mental illness, showing them that they are not alone and not to blame. In short, it’s a support group through the mail.
The pen pal network includes about 30 women who live in jails, prisons and state hospitals across the country. Network Coordinator Corinne Reilly personally corresponds with the women and sends out regular newsletters to the entire group, providing members with each other’s news and personal messages. Some women in the network also correspond with one another directly. Others live in facilities that don’t allow them to send and receive mail from other inmates. The newsletters help those members to connect, heal and keep in touch with mothers who have experienced similar tragedies, even if they can’t do it directly.
For more information, or to join the network email Corinne Reilly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pen Pal Network is also working to gather information on legal cases involving postpartum mental illness in hopes of creating a clearinghouse of information to help women, families, and lawyers facing such cases. If you know of any, and especially if you’ve been involved in one, please contact the office and help us build our resource list.