Happy World Maternal Mental Health Day


Today marks World Maternal Mental Health Day. Started in 2016, World Maternal Mental Health day was started by an international team of clinicians, researchers, advocates, and survivors of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADS) to bring much-needed attention to maternal mental health.

An estimated 20% of women will develop a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder some time during pregnancy or the first year postpartum. The majority of these women will not seek treatment. Much of the time if they do seek treatment, they will not receive adequate support. Untreated perinatal mood and anxiety disorders affect women’s physical and emotional health, and in some cases, their ability work. Poor maternal mental health has consequences for families, impacts relationships, and can impact a mother’s ability to care for her children.

Women of color have significantly higher rates of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and have even less access to treatment. The same is true for women living in poverty. Single women, teen mothers, and queer women are also at additional risk for developing mental health problems during pregnancy or postpartum.

The good news is perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are treatable! Treatment can restore a mom’s mental health, improve her relationship to her child or children, and allow her to re-engage in work so she can provide for her family.

This is where World Maternal Mental Health day comes in.  Today is a reminder that maternal mental health matters. It’s an opportunity to increase awareness, decrease stigma, and start conversations with family and friends about this important topic. It’s a reminder to talk to your representatives about supporting policy that supports moms and that decriminalizes mental illness. It’s a reminder to check in on your friends.

If you’d like to participate in World Maternal Mental Health Day, consider the following ideas

  1. Share your story! Talking about your experience is a meaningful way to combat stigma and increase awareness. Consider sharing your story here or simply share with friends and family.
  2. Participate in Advocacy: Here in DC, there are many ways to be on the front lines of policy change. Consider attending Mom Congress on May 5th– 7th and stand with other moms to lobby Congress to support legislation that improves maternal health. March for Moms, a rally in support of maternal health, will be held on the National Mall on May 11th
  3. Use Social Media: Tweet with the hashtag #maternalMHmatters. You can also join the Blue Dot Project in their Making Over Motherhood Campaign or follow them on Twitter with the hashtags #MMHWeek2019 and #MakingOverMotherhood.
  4. Support the Cause: Sign the petition to have World Maternal Mental Health day officially recognized by the UN World Health Organization and the World Health Assembly. Consider a donation to an organization such as Postpartum Support International, a non-profit which offers information, support and resources for free to women and their families worldwide.
  5. Get Support: Take care of your emotional wellbeing. If you are concerned you are experiencing a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, please get help from a professional with specialized training in the treatment of PMADS. Even if you are not worried about a PMAD but are in need of some additional support, please remember there are experienced professionals who can help you. The DC Metro Mental Health Collaborative has a great resource page to find trained clinicians as well as ancillary support services. You can contact your local chapter of Postpartum Support International, call or text their helpline, or take advantage of a number of other free resources they provide for families. The Spring Project is another wonderful resource to get high-quality treatment at a low cost.

Enjoy World Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day and share this with your friends. It’ll get conversations going which is so important!