Maternal Mental Health
How To Take Care Of Yourself
Make a safety plan. Have a step-by-step plan ready for if/when you feel depressed, suicidal, or in crisis, so you can start at step one and continue through the steps until you feel safe. Creating a safety plan can include listing your coping strategies, identifying the people in your life that may support you through a crisis, and more. Having a template on hand with an established plan may be helpful, or you can get help and guidance at https://www.mysafetyplan.org/.
How To Help
Ask and listen: Be an active part of your loved ones’ support systems and check-in with them often. Many mothers, particularly those with depression or intrusive thoughts have a fear of speaking up for a number of reasons. If they show any warning signs for suicide, be direct. Tell them it’s OK to talk about suicidal feelings. Practice active listening techniques and let them talk without judgment. Mothers often experience significant stigma and shame, particularly if she had a wanted and an uneventful pregnancy/delivery and a healthy baby. Stigma and shame surrounding mental health can also be culturally grounded and it can be helpful to recognize cultural nuances.
Learn the facts: Maternal mental health concerns can be caused by a combination of biological, psychological and social stressors, such as lack of support, a family history, or a previous experience with these symptoms. Maternal anxiety and depression are the most common complications of childbirth, impacting up to 1 in 5 women, yet they are not universally screened for, nor treated.
Get them help and take care of yourself: Don’t be afraid to get your loved one the help they might need. The risk for both depression and anxiety can be reduced and sometimes prevented, and with treatment women can recover. The Lifeline is always here to talk or chat, both for crisis intervention and to support family, friends, and loved ones.