Tell us about PSI’s volunteer Support Coordinator program.
PSI has over 400 local volunteer Support Coordinators serving every US state and around the world. There is a team of floater coordinators who support wide areas of the country and help fill in areas where we are recruiting volunteers. Additionally, there is a team of dedicated staff members ready to support our help seekers and volunteers alike.
PSI Support Coordinators are trained individuals who provide support, encouragement, information, and resources by phone, text, or email.
PSI Support Coordinators help connect pregnant, postpartum, and post-loss individuals and families with local providers who are trained to treat perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
Volunteers give encouragement, information, tips, and resources but not clinical, medical, legal, or religious advice. They are here to help all families navigate through the transition to parenthood.
We also have Specialized Coordinators in the United States. Some examples are Coordinators for dads, military families, Spanish-speaking families, and LGBTQ+.
Tell us about PSI’s volunteer Specialized Coordinators.
The Support Coordinator program has a subset of volunteers who have offered to share their experience and knowledge related to specific situations, roles or conditions that can exacerbate mental health challenges during pregnancy or postpartum.
Often the parents who benefit most from connecting with our Specialized Coordinators do not know anyone else in their circle of friends or family who have gone through what they are, and being able to connect with a person with lived experience can be incredibly validating and reassuring. Specialized Coordinators provide specific understanding, support and referrals to resources for their area of specialization. These resources could be books, podcasts, websites, social media groups or pages, and more.
Specialized Coordinators support any parent facing their area of specialization that reaches out for help, so they could be anywhere. These volunteers are not the ones who make local resource referrals – the Support Coordinator in the help seeker’s area would be asked to do that part. This system allows our volunteers to work together to make sure the help seeker receives the best support and resource referrals for their needs.
Do you need to be a professional within the perinatal mental health field to volunteer as a Support Coordinator?
Not at all! Anyone with a heart for supporting new families is welcome to volunteer.
In addition to being PSI’s Support Coordinator Program Response Assistant, you have also served as a Specialized Support Coordinator for Dads. Share with us about your experience and the impact you’ve made as a volunteer.
Since starting with PSI in 2020, I have had the privilege of supporting over 80 families worldwide, with help seekers from the U.S., Canada, Austria, and Costa Rica.
What I find most interesting are the varied background of the folks that reach out to PSI. I have supported musicians, artists, professionals in various fields, blue-collar workers and stay-at-home parents. These families represent different ethnic and religious backgrounds and all different income levels. Despite all of the perceived differences, what unites all of the families I have served is the experience of being new parents.
Why is it so critically important to have dads in the role of a Specialized Support Coordinator?
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) affect the whole family – all parents, of all genders, and all backgrounds. It is so important to have Support Coordinators that reflect the many faces of the perinatal experience. Dads often have a different experience and different concerns as they are welcoming baby home. It is important to connect these parents with Coordinators who understand and honor those experiences.
How do you begin the process of becoming a Specialized Support Coordinator?
The first step is to fill out the Support Coordinator application, found under the Support Coordinator tab on https://www.postpartum.net/join-us/volunteer/. From there, our Support Coordinator Program Manager will review the application and invite the applicant to an interview. The next steps include watching videos to better understand the roles and responsibilities of the Coordinator role and chatting with other members of the team to prepare you to start supporting new parents.
Can you touch on the prevalence of PMADs among dads?
The most current research suggests that at least 1 in 10 dads experience PMADs within the first year postpartum. It is most commonly seen in dads whose partners are struggling with perinatal mental health as well.
PSI has a whole-family, father-inclusive approach to perinatal mental health. Please explain how Dads Specialized Support Coordinators fulfills this commitment.
Unfortunately, there is far less support offered to dads and other birth partners. PSI is demonstrating its commitment to helping the entire family recover and be whole. This ensures that all parents are well-supported and are able to offer a safe and stable home for their children.
Additionally, the most current research suggests that if one parent has a PMAD, it is likely that the other will develop symptoms as well. Offering empathy, education, and resources to at least one parent will help ensure that the whole family is well-supported.
What sort of information can a dad plan to receive by connecting with a Dads Specialized Support Coordinator?
I truly try to personalize the resources given to the dads that I connect with. Often, the parents I support will request podcasts, websites, information on their child’s growth and development, and information on work/life balance.
If the dads are interested in finding resources in their area, I request that one of our excellent local coordinators follow up with the parent to offer additional support.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Serving as Dads Specialized Support Coordinator is such a gratifying and humbling experience. I am so glad that I am able to support families and offer encouragement as they enter a new chapter in their lives.