The month of May draws in conversations and events to spread awareness of mental health. Aside from sharing knowledge and resources on mental health, mental health issues, and mental health illnesses, Mental Health Month also brings to the spotlight Maternal Mental Health Month. This movement seeks to emphasize the importance of paying attention to a new mother’s mental health, especially during pregnancy and the period right after giving birth.
New mothers can sometimes experience “baby blues,” where they are irritable, angry, or sad, and this can develop into mental health illnesses, most notably pregnancy or postpartum depression (PPD). These negative emotions are usually aimed at themselves or their babies, and many women come to feel shame and guilt for feeling the way that they do. That is why many of these issues don’t get talked about and can lead to deep-seated depression or, worse, maternal suicide.
Whether you’re a mom-to-be or know someone who’s about to become a mother, participate in spreading awareness about maternal mental health. By doing so, you can encourage and support new mothers in times of vulnerability and destigmatize the way society views maternal mental health. You can spread awareness by following the steps below:
Wear Merchandise to Spark a Conversation
Wearable merchandise, like rubber bracelets or t-shirts, that displays your advocacy can spark the interest of the people around you. You can then take this opportunity to elaborate more on maternal mental health—what it is and what kind of impact it can have on a mother and her family. You should also make sure that your merchandise includes a hotline that people can contact or a website that they can go to for additional information.
Having a website with resources or a hotline that they can call will be handy if you don’t have much time to speak with others personally. In cases like this, you can simply hand them the merchandise or have them take note of the contact information on it. They can follow up and learn more about your advocacy by getting in touch with you at a later time.
Share Your Experience
If you’re a mother who has experienced baby blues or PPD, now is a good time to speak up. Sharing your feelings, what you went through, and how you dealt with your emotions will help new mothers see that they’re not alone. It will also encourage new mothers to share their feelings and find ways to cope with their emotions. Through hearing your story, they might realize they have symptoms of PPD or other mental health illnesses related to pregnancy and consider seeking professional help. You can share your experiences through your advocacy’s social media accounts or even by speaking in person during live events.
Use Social Media to Reach More People
Social media is a powerful tool that you can use to spread awareness of Maternal Mental Health Month. New mothers can take to their social media accounts and share how they dealt with baby blues and PPD.
If you’re someone who’s never felt baby blues or PPD, you can always share stories from those who have experienced these feelings instead. Sharing or reposting these stories on your account can boost the posts’ engagements, reaching a wider audience. When you share stories of mothers experiencing baby blues or PPD, you also signal your support for these new mothers.
Host a Maternal Mental Health Awareness Event
If you have the resources or the means, you can consider hosting a maternal mental health awareness event like a conference or seminar regarding the topic. An event like this can have speakers who can talk about maternal mental health and give marginalized new mothers access to help they might not have. An event like this can also encourage new mothers to check on their mental well-being as they might be too preoccupied with childrearing.
The public nature of these kinds of events allows it to reach a wider audience that can maximize the exposure of your advocacy. As more people come to understand the emotional struggles of new mothers, these people will eventually be able to express themselves instead of keeping it all in. Aspiring mothers will also discover that they can be susceptible to these mental health illnesses and learn how to treat these illnesses if it happens to them in the future.
Monitor Your Mental Health
Working to spread awareness on maternal mental health can be draining, and that is why you should consistently check in with your personal mental health. Ask yourself how you’re feeling from time to time and see if the physical and mental stress is negatively impacting your way of living. Doing so will remind you to take breaks when you need them and help you avoid overworking yourself.
You can also try to do things that can benefit your mental health. Maintaining your physical health can positively affect your mental well-being, so as much as possible, make sure to exercise, eat a balanced diet, and maintain a generally healthy lifestyle.
New mothers may feel shame and guilt when they feel anything but happiness and love towards their newborn children, but it is normal to experience these emotions. By raising awareness of maternal mental health, new mothers can accept that this is a part of motherhood. They will also recognize that they’re not alone and find the support they need to deal with mood swings, irritability, and postpartum depression.