Invest in mothers
Five times as many women suffer from perinatal mood disorders than are diagnosed with breast cancer. And stress due to COVID-19 puts women even more at risk for these mental health issues. If we do not invest in mothers now, we risk long-term effects.
We need to build awareness about perinatal mood disorders: among new parents, their families and friends, and healthcare workers who provide them with care. Signs and feelings to look for include sadness, inability to make decisions, poor self-care, appetite changes, excessive crying, and more. Knowing these should encourage new parents to seek help from their providers.
We also need to create a strong system of support. One in 7 mothers experience postpartum depression, as do one in 10 fathers. No one should feel alone with such a pervasive problem. Groups are starting to form around the state of Montana, now we just have to bring awareness to them and the people who are donating their time to facilitate.
These efforts are top of mind as we approach World Maternal Mental Health Day on May 5th. This problem isn’t new and will affect even more families, as the pandemic has changed what pregnancy and childbirth looks like.
Megan Peters, Helena