April 30 to May 4 has been declared World Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. For the next five days, the Moment Health team’s schedule is booked solid with partnerships, presentations and the inaugural Northern Ireland Maternal Mental Health Conference, all set in place to highlight the need to raise awareness and improve support and services for those struggling with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).
This need is nothing small. It is a global need. The world’s mums are suffering, and many are doing so in silence. And it doesn’t stop with the world’s mums – dads are also affected. It ends up impacting children, the entire family unit, and, left untreated, becomes an inter-generational legacy.
It’s estimated that 1 in 5 new mums experiences some form of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, which can develop any time after conception, to well into the first year after giving birth. One in five. Twenty per cent of all new mums.
And most likely more. You see, that guesstimate is based on the numbers who come forward. In reality, some 70 per cent of new mums aren’t aware they’re suffering, so they don’t speak up. And around as many sufferers admit to hiding their struggle, for a variety of reasons, including fear of judgement.
And while this awareness week holds a heavy focus on Maternal Mental Health, it’s a great opportunity and just as important to highlight Paternal Mental Health – men can struggle at any point during the pregnancy and parenthood life stages too, with one in 10 estimated to suffer perinatal depression or anxiety.
The Moment Health app has always been developed with both mums and dads in mind. Available on iOS and Android, we encourage all new parents to download it and use it to track their moods and check for symptoms. And they can do so with the confidence that the app, which has been developed with the help of clinicians and medical professionals, uses evidence-based screening tools.
We all know new mums and dads – so we all have the power to look out for new parents around us, to ask them if they’re okay, to let them know they’re not alone, to remind them if they are struggling that it is nothing to be ashamed of. Most importantly, to help them realise they are suffering a treatable illness, and they can recover and feel better with a mix of professional help, peer support, self-awareness and self-care that is unique to every individual.
Pregnancy and early parenthood are life-altering milestones that are not always wrapped in a dreamy glow. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders don’t affect everyone, sure, but mental health should absolutely be part of the care protocol from pregnancy onwards, so that new parents – and the support persons around them – are aware of the potential for symptoms of depression or anxiety taking hold, and know what to do if it happens to them.
Early intervention leads to an 80-90 per cent chance of successful recovery. This week, we’re launching our #CheckYourSymptoms campaign to coincide with Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.
It’s vital that new mums, new dads, partners, families and support networks are aware of the common signs and symptoms of perinatal depression and anxiety, so we’ve designed two simple, easy-to-follow infographics – one for Anxiety, one for Depression – to highlight what these PMADs can feel like.
If we help one mum or dad through our infographics, we are making a change for the positive. We are making progress. But we’re hoping to reach many, many more.
Please, if you can do one thing this week, I ask you to Pay It Forward by sharing our infographics in whatever way you can – share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Email it to a friend. Print it out. Stick it on the office fridge. Pass it on to any new mum you know. Copy. Paste. Download. Share. Share. Share.
With thanks and gratitude,
A bit about Moment Health…
Moment Health is a technology company that aims to prioritise Maternal Mental Health and provide new parents with the tools and knowledge they need to sustain good mental wellbeing – from pregnancy through to parenthood.
The Moment Health app has been developed with clinicians and healthcare professionals. It screens for perinatal, postnatal and associated anxieties, and includes additional features such as a helpful guide to practical and accessible coping strategies.
At Moment Health, our mission is to make maternal mental health mainstream #MakeItMainstream.