It’s the first day of May. Spring is officially here, and so it begins – the time of year when we mothers ‘should’ start to look towards the brighter days; making plans to do all sorts of things, with a sense of hope and renewed energy.
Or at the very least be happy that now we can venture outside more, which in itself provides space for a breather.
But what about if it’s actually just the marker of more pressure to be doing, instead of being; to be sparkly and brand-new, when, to be honest, just getting one foot in front of the other is still the aim of the day no matter the season?!
Unknown to many, but growing in awareness, is the fact that Wednesday 1st May 2019 officially marks World Maternal Mental Health Day 2019 – part of a week of campaigning about the mental health concerns of mothers and families.
The day sees many different organisations from across the globe coming together to increase awareness of, and decrease the stigma surrounding, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
Motherhood, though a huge privilege, is a challenging time, to say the least.
Right from the get-go; as soon as women even begin to think of trying to conceive, and obviously from the moment the hormonal shifts start once conception has occurred – women become increasingly more vulnerable to mental illness.
Let alone when the child is born and life changes beyond all recognition.
Not only that, but the umpteen possible variations that could, and often do, impact upon mothers’ lives in today’s age – for instance, the negative cycle of poverty and mental illness – usually determine, detrimentally, a woman’s ability to function and thrive.
Mental health care provides the necessary support to empower women to identify resources and personal capabilities.
This lifeline can enhance not only their resilience to difficult life circumstances as they arise in the future, but crucially they support mothers to nurture their children optimally.
By helping mothers, we are helping babies!
Babies that learn to crawl, walk, talk and soon enough will grow into little people in their own right. We all know that the primary care small humans receive in the early years is THE foundation for good mental wellbeing (and overall health) throughout life.
So, let’s get real here.
Let’s stop spouting the nonsense lies about perfection in motherhood. The dream. The bliss of it all. Let’s talk hormones. Challenges. Breakdowns and coping mechanisms. Let’s smash the over-marketed and deeply destructive image of a good mother. Let’s end the guilt-trip and stop the shame-train.
Mothers have had enough.
They are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Doing it all. Being everything.
Society needs to ask the right questions and be prepared to listen. Truly listen.
Women’s and children’s lives – families – depend on it.
With child and adult mental health issues worsening at incredible levels. We must take an interest. We must look and see and notice. Probe and discover. Uncover. Enlighten.
Let’s end the cycle of passed-down mental illnesses.
Let’s end suffering.
Just to give an outline of the scale, it’s reported that in many countries, at least 1 in 5 new mothers experiences some type of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMADs).
What’s really sad and shocking is that these illnesses frequently go unnoticed and untreated, often with long- term consequences to both mother and baby.
Since 2016, WMMHday is commemorated on the first Wednesday of May every year – which falls on May 1 in 2019.
The field of perinatal maternal mental health is constantly growing with the help of advocates all over the world.
This year the aim of the campaign is to highlight the importance of research and clinical trials. As well as this, WMMH Day is an opportunity to share knowledge about the vast array of projects and research within this field!
You can learn more and send information about any projects, research or events that you know of to the World Maternal Mental Health Day website, find the WMMHD Facebook page, and use #maternalMHmatters to connect on social media.
The old adage is very simple, but very true: There is no health without mental health!
Increasing awareness will drive social change with a goal towards improving the quality of care for all women experiencing all types of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, thereby reducing the stigma of maternal mental illness.
We are encouraging mental health and healthcare professionals, friends, and relatives of new mothers to listen and ask how she’s really feeling?
Create opportunities for them to speak out about their mental health, make sure they know they are not alone and seeking help is not a weakness.
Join the campaign here.
Let’s help to unmask the stigma around maternal mental health and ensure that mothers are heard.
If you’re struggling. Please know that you are not alone. Countless women – amazing women and wonderful mothers – doing their best, have struggled and struggle. Help is out there.
Please talk to your doctor or someone who you feel may be able to help you.
For those in the UK, here are some great stats! You’re not alone. Far from it.