Contact: Kim Lehman, 717-599-0891
Postpartum Support International Urges Friends, Family
to Check on New and Expectant Moms this May
One in Five Mothers Experience Mental Health Disorders During or
After Pregnancy; Support and Treatment are Available, Accessible, and Effective
May 1, 2023—PORTLAND, OR.—May brings National Maternal Mental Health Month and Mother’s Day, making it an ideal time to educate mothers and the people in their lives about postpartum depression and other perinatal mental health (PMH) disorders. Nonprofit Postpartum Support International (PSI) is working to improve PMH disorder awareness and access to support and care while reducing stigma around perinatal mental health disorders.
Each May, PSI puts extra emphasis on educating the public during National Maternal Mental Health Month. May is also when Americans celebrate mothers and motherhood, which is anything but joyful for those suffering from a PMH disorder. Research shows that although PMH disorders affect 800,000 people a year, only 25% of them receive treatment. One in five women and one in 10 men experience depression or anxiety during the perinatal period, which includes pregnancy, post-loss, and 12 months postpartum. Despite improvements in the understanding of these disorders, each year, hundreds of thousands of parents suffer silently because they don’t know what they are experiencing is common and treatable, or they feel embarrassed and/or ashamed.
PMH disorders are the most frequent complications of childbearing. They are also ranked among the top underlying causes of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. Although postpartum depression is commonly cited, other PMH disorders include anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and psychosis. They affect parents of every culture, age, income, gender, and race.
“I had a crash course in postpartum mental health disorders in 1994 when my son was born. I was a mental health professional, yet had no idea there was a name for what I was experiencing,” said Wendy Davis PhD, PMH-C, executive director of Postpartum Support International. “I couldn’t believe any good mother would feel such dread and hopelessness. I was sinking fast and isolating myself until a friend encouraged me to get help, which led to my recovery and put me on a mission to help other parents suffering the way I had.”
Recent tragedies involving Lindsay Clancy in the Boston area and Paulesha Green-Pulliam in San Francisco have brought PMH disorders to the forefront of national news. While symptoms vary, PMH disorders commonly make mothers feel alone and helpless. They may be paralyzed by anxiety and doubtful of their ability to parent, which can lead to feelings of regret and despondency at a time society dictates should be one of the happiest of their lives. For a woman suffering from a PMH disorder, there’s nothing scarier than feeling alone, abandoned, or without the help she desperately needs.
Moms and their partners should know support and care are available, and you don’t need a diagnosis to get help. PSI offers coordination, comfort, and peer support, helping people find the right resources online and in their own communities. Parents can use the PSI Helpline for support and resources at 1-800-944-4773 (English and Spanish), text “help” to 1-800-944-4773 (English) or 971-203-7773 (Spanish), or visit postpartum.net. PSI has an online Perinatal Mental Health Provider Directory that lists trained providers and support groups and operates a Perinatal Psychiatric Consultation line, through which any medical provider can consult with an expert perinatal psychiatrist at no charge. PSI facilitates more than 30 virtual support groups including those for military families, LGBTQIA+ families, Spanish speakers, and more.
“Perinatal Mental Health disorders have proven highly treatable,” Davis said. “To the parents suffering: We see you. You are not alone. This is temporary. With help, you will feel like yourself again.”
Ways to help a mother experiencing a PMH disorder:
- Let her know that PSI’s Helpline (1-800-944-4PPD) provides comfort and support. It is an excellent first stop for support and care and you do not need a diagnosis to get help. Make the call or send the text if she gives you permission and needs help doing it.
- Tell her that she’s doing a great job, even though she might not feel like it.
- Tell her you can see her baby is comforted by her and loves her.
- Hug her and remind her that she is loved and valued by many, including her baby.
- Provide a safe space for her to express her anxiety and fears.
- Make sure she knows that it’s clear she’s trying her best, that you are proud of her, and that every new mom struggles even though it might not seem that way.
- Don’t ask her what you can do to help. Do it. Laundry, cooking or ordering takeout, and watching the baby so she can have time alone are all ways to provide support.
- Tell her you are proud of her for all she is doing.
- Make sure she knows PMH disorders are common and temporary and that it is okay to ask for help.
About Postpartum Support International
Founded by a new mother in 1987 to increase awareness among public and professional communities about the emotional difficulties women can experience during and after pregnancy, Postpartum Support International (PSI) offers a wealth of resources for a wide range of needs, situations, and audiences to give families the strongest and healthiest start possible through support and community. PSI offers support, resources, best-practice training and certification for healthcare professionals and volunteer coordinators nationwide and in more than 30 countries. PSI is committed to eliminating stigma and ensuring compassionate and quality care and support are available to all families. Need help? Call 1-800-944-4PPD (4773). Learn more at postpartum.net.