Light shone on mental health of expectant and postpartum mothers
“Two-thirds of mothers reported experiencing sadness or anxiety during pregnancy or the postpartum period, leading to concerns about their mental health. Among these, one-third felt this way most of the time. Alarmingly, less than half of these concerned mothers sought treatment or support.
Notably, mothers from Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities expressed significantly greater concern about their mental health compared to Caucasian mothers, with 39% being very concerned, as opposed to 28%. A November survey of Canadian mothers revealed that a staggering 83% only recognized their perinatal mental health issues long after experiencing them, highlighting the urgent need for expert attention.
Addressing this issue, a timely symposium took place in Toronto last Thursday, focusing on the mental health of mothers during pregnancy and postpartum, along with available treatment options.
The National Perinatal Mental Health Policy Symposium, sponsored by the Daymark Foundation, brought together government representatives, stakeholders, medical experts, and practitioners, including Federal Minister of Mental Health Ya’ara Saks and the Ontario Black Doula Society.
Lauren McCain of The Daymark Foundation emphasized, “Research underscores the central role of a mother’s mental health in a family’s overall well-being, profoundly impacting a child’s long-term mental and physical health. Effective maternal mental health care is vital for enhancing population-level mental health and represents the earliest intervention for child and youth mental health.”
The symposium unveiled new survey findings revealing that 60% of mothers refrained from seeking treatment due to discomfort discussing their issues, unawareness of their mental health conditions, a lack of knowledge regarding available resources, or facing various barriers to care, as shared by Vani Jain of The Daymark Foundation. It is evident that raising awareness and improving access to care are critical challenges that demand immediate attention.
Organizers consider the symposium a significant step forward in shedding light on these issues, advancing research and interventions, and instigating progress. Key topics of discussion included enhancing access to care, optimizing the management of healthcare resources, addressing the unique needs of marginalized communities, and recognizing the profound connection between maternal mental health and the mental health of infants and children.
Minister Saks concluded, “For too long, our healthcare system has not given due priority to women’s mental health. The transition to parenthood, encompassing physical challenges, financial and social pressures, isolation, and sleep deprivation, takes a substantial emotional and physical toll. We are committed to ensuring that pregnant individuals and new parents struggling with their mental health receive the necessary support and services when they need them.”