May maternal health awareness month - featured image - pregnant woman

May: Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

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May: Maternal Mental
Health Awareness Month

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May is a big month for mothers. Not only is Mother’s Day in May but this month also marks Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about the mental health challenges that many mothers face during pregnancy and postpartum. This annual observance aims to educate, support, and advocate for maternal mental health initiatives, highlighting the importance of early detection, intervention, and support for mothers experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).
The origins of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month can be traced back to the efforts of organizations and individuals committed to addressing the mental health needs of mothers and families. The initiative gained momentum in the early 2000s, driven by the recognition of the prevalence and impact of PMADs on maternal well-being, infant development, and family dynamics. The month of May was chosen to coincide with Mother's Day, serving as a poignant reminder of the significance of maternal mental health in the lives of mothers and their families.
The primary goal of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month is to shed light on the unique challenges that mothers may face during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Mother resting her head on the couch near her sleeping baby
Research indicates that approximately 15-20% of women experience significant mental health issues during pregnancy and after childbirth (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2021). Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), which encompass a range of conditions including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, are among the most prevalent. During the postpartum period, up to 1 in 7 women may suffer from postpartum depression alone (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). Additionally, infertility treatments and the stress of trying to conceive can also trigger or exacerbate mental health challenges, affecting around 30% of women undergoing these processes (Mental Health America, 2021). These statistics underscore the critical need for awareness, screening, and support for maternal mental health throughout the entire reproductive journey.
In addition, mothers with postpartum depression (PPD) often face significant stigmas that can exacerbate their condition and hinder their ability to seek help. Society often expects new mothers to be overwhelmingly joyful and fulfilled, which can make those experiencing PPD feel ashamed or inadequate. This stigma is fueled by misconceptions that PPD is a sign of weakness or a lack of maternal instinct, leading to guilt and isolation. Many mothers fear judgment from family, friends, and even healthcare providers, worrying that they will be seen as unfit parents, being perfect or raising their child in a specific way. This fear of stigma can prevent them from speaking openly about their struggles and accessing the support and treatment they need, ultimately prolonging their suffering and impacting their overall well-being.
Mother holding her baby
By raising awareness about maternal mental health, advocates hope to reduce stigma, increase access to screening and treatment services, and promote supportive environments for mothers and families. Through educational campaigns, community events, and online resources for postpartum support and Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month encourages open dialogue, destigmatizes mental health struggles, and empowers mothers to seek help when needed.
Furthermore, Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a call to action for policymakers, healthcare providers, and stakeholders to prioritize maternal mental health in public health agendas, healthcare systems, and social support networks. Investments in maternal mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention programs can yield significant benefits for maternal and child health outcomes, family well-being, and societal productivity.
Pregnant woman holding her belly
As Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month unfolds each May, it offers opportunities for advocacy, education, and solidarity among individuals and organizations committed to supporting maternal mental health.

Maternal Mental Health at The Minnesota Clinic for Health and Wellness

At the Minnesota Clinic for Health and Wellness, we foster a culture of compassion, understanding, and support for mothers navigating the complex journey of pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenthood. It is our goal to ensure that every mother receives the whole-person care and support she needs to thrive mentally, emotionally, and physically through various treatments and providers. For example, Tarmara Nascene is an Occupational Therapist at the MCHW and one of her modalities that could support a client with any of the above mentioned pregnancy-related conditions is pelvic health therapy. Pelvic health therapy promotes the wellness and function of your pelvis, including the bladder, bowel, and reproductive organs. Tamara is a trauma-informed pelvic health practitioner who brings a holistic approach to working with the pelvis. She will help you explore the impact of mental, social, and emotional health on your body. Treatment with Tamara may include somatic approaches, nervous system regulation, and biomechanical techniques.
If you’re unsure of which path to begin your journey, there are clinicians at MCHW who also provide support from mental health therapists offering traditional psychotherapy and counseling to support maternal/perinatal mental health. We encourage you to look over all the bios, methods and modalities of our providers who work with clients in this area to see what and who resonates with you:
The key to successful treatment of postpartum and other maternal mental health conditions lies in finding a therapeutic approach that resonates with the individual and addresses the specific challenges they face. If you or someone you know is suffering and you’re unsure of where to start, please give us a call at the Minnesota Clinic for Health and Wellness and our trained staff will ask you specific questions to get your started on your therapeutic journey to well-being.

References

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2021). Mental health disorders in the perinatal period.
https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/mental-health-disorders-in-the-perinatal-period

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Depression among women.
https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/index.htm

Mental Health America. (2021). Infertility and mental health.
https://www.mhanational.org/infertility-and-mental-health