World Maternal Mental Health Day: We Can All Do Our Part
World Maternal Mental Health Day is celebrated on May 3rd each year to raise awareness of the importance of maternal mental health during pregnancy and after childbirth. This special day was instituted under the premise of supporting mothers around the world, ensuring that they have access to the services and treatments needed to maintain their psychological health.
Let’s take a look at the factors that influence maternal mental health, the impact on the family and society, and how we can all contribute to improving the overall well-being of mothers. What do you think you can contribute to the cause?
Maternal mental health, what is it?
Maternal mental health refers to the psychological health of mothers during pregnancy and after childbirth. According to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, about 15 % of women who have had children suffer from postpartum depression. The situation affects the mother-child relationship and the child’s development.
In addition, other factors, such as stress, anxiety, lack of social support, and domestic violence, can all also influence maternal mental health. An article in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth notes that mothers who experience these circumstances are at increased risk for mental disorders during and after pregnancy.
It has become critical for the importance of maternal mental health to be recognized. Health institutions and society as a whole must provide the necessary support to mothers to prevent and treat mental disorders during pregnancy and after childbirth.
Impact on child development
Maternal mental health has a significant impact on the development of the child in the womb. A study published in the journal Paediatrics & Child Health found that maternal depression and other mental disorders during early childhood can negatively affect the child’s cognitive and emotional development.
In addition, maternal mental health also impacts the family and society. Lack of support and stigmatization of mental disorders can complicate and hinder a mother’s ability to care for her child. Changes in family dynamics will alter the growth and development of the young child in his or her early years.
World Maternal Mental Health Day aims to break the stigma and raise awareness of the psychological support needed for mothers, because this support not only improves a woman’s quality of life. In short, it’s one more incentive for childhood to develop in a healthy environment.
This is what is stated in an article in the journal World Psychiatry which states that programs that provide care and support for maternal mental health have the following benefits:
- They reduce the burden of mental disorders in the adult population
- They have a positive impact on the family and society in general
- They improve the mother-child relationship
How can we help on World Maternal Mental Health Day?
There are many ways we can contribute. And not only with specific actions on World Maternal Mental Health Day. We need to extend our support beyond that, so that it’s sustained over time.
We can provide emotional support to the mothers we meet, listen to their concerns, and ease their burdens when they’re part of our family. It’ll be comforting for them not to have to deal with so many daily activities that take time away from sharing time with their baby in the womb or their newborn baby.
Professional help is also the most advisable when there are clear signs of mood disorders. It’s encouraging to know that many countries have created specific organizations and programs to address maternal mental health.
The International Marce Society is also a global organization dedicated to the promotion of maternal mental health through research, education and clinical care. For their part, some of the States that currently have such an organization are as follows:
Specific ways to contribute to maternal mental health
- Providing emotional support, because mothers need to feel that they have someone to talk to about their concerns and feelings. Listening to them in a nonjudgmental way and offering words of encouragement and support can be very helpful.
- Helping with household chores, as the arrival of a baby can be overwhelming for mothers. Any contribution to household chores, such as cleaning, meal preparation, or caring for other children, can be invaluable.
- Promoting self-care by reminding mothers of the importance of taking care of themselves and taking time to do things they enjoy.
- Being understanding and flexible, because motherhood is a difficult job and everyone does it in their own way. Let’s recognize that each woman has her own path and pace.
A call to action
A lack of attention to maternal mental health can have serious consequences in the lives of mothers, such as postpartum depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. In addition, the impact extends to the family and society at large, and can contribute to social problems such as poverty and violence.
For that reason, it’s important that as a society we recognize the importance of maternal mental health. It’s time to take action to support mothers on their journey.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Canadian Paediatric Society. (2004). Maternal depression and child development. Paediatrics & child health, 9(8), 575–598. https://doi.org/10.1093/pch/9.8.575
- Howard, L. M., & Khalifeh, H. (2020). Perinatal mental health: a review of progress and challenges. World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), 19(3), 313–327. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7491613/
- Pearlstein, T., Howard, M., Salisbury, A., & Zlotnick, C. (2009). Postpartum depression. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 200(4), 357–364. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3918890/
- Sūdžiūtė, K., Murauskienė, G., Jarienė, K. et al. Pre-existing mental health disorders affect pregnancy and neonatal outcomes: a retrospective cohort study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 20, 419 (2020). https://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12884-020-03094-5