Category: Events

The 2019 PSI Conference, Portland, OR

2019 PSI Conference in Portland

Every year, Postpartum Support International (PSI) holds a conference that brings together people in the perinatal mental health field. By definition, the perinatal period refers to the period of time from conception up to a year after birth. As such, anyone who supports mothers and families during this period is an important part of the perinatal mental health field.

This year’s conference was the 32nd of its kind. We are grateful to have had a chance to attend the 2019 PSI Conference. As Kenya coordinator for PSI, this was a great opportunity to meet, learn and network with others in this field. The conference, held between June 26th and June 30th at the Hilton Downtown in Portland OR, brought together more than 700 attendees from all over the USA, as well as four organizations represented from Africa which included Postpartum Depression Kenya (PPDKenya), Perinatal Services (KE), SPANS (Zimbabwe) and Postpartum Support Network – PSN (Nigeria). This was made possible by the Perinatal Action Fund which provides conference scholarships for people of colour.

The conference began with a 2-day certificate course that covered Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders: Components of Care. The next three days included expert keynotes, breakout sessions, a poster session the Hickman Research Award and the Kruckman White Award. The conference came to an end on Sunday with the advanced PMH psychotherapy training.

Above images courtesy of Ivy Shih Leung

Perinatal Mood Disorders: Components of Care

This 2-day training covered various components of care for mothers and families in the perinatal period, and was facilitated by Birdie Gunyon and Pec Indman.

The training covered topics that included the full spectrum of PMADs (that is Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders), the screening process, cultural relevance, the importance of social support as well as resources available for those in the perinatal period. It was an eye-opening training that gave much insight into ways to improve our Elimisha Mama program in partnering hospitals.

Read More: The Elimisha Mama Program for pregnant couples and new parents

One of the highlights during this session was to know that symptoms of PMADs may present differently, with moms often saying things like:

I cannot cope.

I feel like I am a bad mom and my child could do with a better mom.

This doesn’t feel like me; I miss the old me.                                                                                                                          

I feel so alone, I don’t think motherhood is for me.

I am losing it.

This is important to note because often, mothers with an undiagnosed PMAD may not have the right words to express emotional pain.

Addressing cultural dimensions of PMADs

Cultural dimensions have a great impact in women’s perinatal mental health – and for good reason. Research shows that PMADs are a universal experience for women and families across the world. It was interesting to note, however, that there were very few studies and almost no existing data in African countries. Without this data, it becomes difficult to evaluate risk factors, create interventions or formulate policies to improve perinatal mental health. This is why Postpartum Depression Kenya is willing to partner with organizations interested in carrying out research in this field.

Read More: Here’s how you can get involved in creating awareness on maternal mental health

Still on culture, the training highlighted the need for culturally sensitive interventions and informed interactions. For this, Postpartum Depression Kenya is using the Kiswahili version of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) to reach moms from different communities in Kenya [source].

On Social Support

The training brought to light the importance of social support networks for mothers during the perinatal period. This support may come from partners, relatives, faith communities and support groups. To be able to provide the right support, it is vital that persons in this cpcity are well informed on perinatal mental illnesses.


The 2019 PSI Conference had three keynote speakers:

  1. Shafia Monroe, a renowned midwife and doula training whose opening keynote covered cultural competency and inclusion in perinatal mental health.
  2. Lee Cohen who is the director of the Ammon-Pinzotto Center for Women’s Mental Health in Massachusetts. His keynote covered resolved and unresolved questions in perinatal psychiatry, aptly titled ‘From Knowns to Unknowns’
  3. Trystan Reese whose keynote addressed ways to supporttransgender parents and the LGBTQ community.

Breakout sessions

Each day, after the keynotes, there were different breakout sessions to delve further into key aspects of the perinatal mental health field. Postpartum Depression Kenya was represented at a number of them, including ‘Conversations that count: Factoring in the Fathers’ (we are saying hello to Daniel Singley and Jane Honikman!), Supporting the Highly sensitive Parent by the lovely Dr. Kat Kaeni of Mom and Mind podcast, the differences between Postpartum Psychosis and OCD (and why it is important as well as Community-Based Postpartum Support Model for families by Mollie and Melenie. Each of these sessions added to our body of knowledge, and sparked new ideas on how to improve our current programs here in Kenya.

Some of the slide presentations during Dr. Kat Kaeni’s breakout session on ‘The Highly Sensitive Parent”

The Kruckman-White Award

The Kruckman-White Award is given each year in recognition of individuals or groups involved in creating awareness and providing support in the perinatal mental health field. We are so proud to have our founder, Samoina, as one of the recipients for the 2019 Kruckman-White Award.

2019 Kruckman-White Award at the 32nd PSI Conference
2019 Kruckman-White Award recipient, our founder, Samoina, pictured alongside Wendy Davis, Executive Director PSI.


The 32nd PSI conference was a great opportunity for our organization to learn more, make new friends and expand networks in the perinatal mental health field globally. We would like to thank the lovely Wendy Davis, Executive Director at PSI, and the team for their efforts in ensuring we attended the conference and training to better improve our work.

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International Women’s Day: Understanding Women’s Mental Health

International Women's Day 2019: Understanding Women's Health

International Women’s Day is marked each year on March 8. This year’s theme is #BalanceForBetter, and as we observe this day, it is only prudent that we address women’s mental health. With more clarity about women’s mental health, it is then possible to address women’s needs in a better way.

There is no health without mental health. In marking International Women’s Day, this provides an excellent chance to address the difference between men and women as far as mental health is concerned.

Gender and Women’s Mental Health

Mental illness affects both men and women, often interfering with one’s ability to lead a full life. While the general rates of mental illness are similar for men and women, there are unique gender-based differences in terms of how the mental illnesses manifest.

According to a report by WHO, gender is a key factor in mental health. Over the years, the significant burden of mental illness has been highlighted more that the gender-specific factors surrounding the same.

Read More: #PPDMyStory – One Kenyan Mom’s story and how she got help

Gender is a critical element because it establishes the differences between men’s and women’s control over their vulnerability to particular mental health risks. Nowhere is this more evident than in the rates of common mental illnesses – anxiety, depression and psychosomatic symptoms.

Gender differences in terms of mental illness

Research shows that the three common mental illnesses affect 1 in every 3 people. Depression for instance, is twice as common in women as it is in men. There is a reason for this – the symptoms of depression and anxiety are directly related to interlinked factors. These factors include gender-based roles, societal expectations and life stressors.

To put this in perspective, consider the following gender specific risks that affect more women than they do men:

  • Gender Based Violence (GBV)
  • Sexual violence
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Poor pay (and in light of this, the global pay gap between men and women)
  • Pregnancy and complications arising thereof

Read More: Postpartum PTSD: When moms experience trauma during childbirth

It is important to clarify that this is not a battle between men and women. We cannot be blind to the fact in Kenya, men are more likely to die by suicide than women. A survey carried out by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicates that 421 cases of suicide were reported in 2017. Out of these cases, 330 of the suicides reported were by men.

Why the gender-based differences in terms of mental health?

The fact that most women take up responsibilities in caring for families and running their households seems to contribute significantly to this gender-based difference. For some, this comes at a steep cost when you consider the time and energy that goes into running households, a labour which, for the most part goes unpaid. This takes a huge toll on women’s mental health and financial status.

Read More: The Invisibleness of Stay-At-Home Motherhood

Add to this some of the challenges that women face at the workplace, particularly in male-dominated fields and it is easy to see the need for gender equality. But this does not, and should not take away from the need to promote women’s mental health.

How can women take care of their mental health?

As we celebrate International Women’s Day under the theme #BalanceForBetter, it is an opportune reminder that behind every woman playing her role in society, is a human being whose physical, emotional and mental well-being matters. Mental health is at the core of our well-being.

Below are some tips to help care for your mental health.

Take care of your physical health

Poor physical health increases the risk of mental illness. This is why mental health and physical health should not be thought of as separate entities. What is good for the body is good for the mind. Make sure to have a balanced diet, get adequate sleep and engage in physical activity.

Maintain healthy supportive relationships

Maintaining healthy relationships is key to a woman’s mental wellbeing. These relationships not only offer support, they also provide much needed stability in the midst of life’s daily challenges.

Create boundaries

Societal expectations placed on women sometimes make it difficult to draw a distinction between different aspects of life. To improve your mental health, it is important to create boundaries between your professional and home life. This allows you to plug into your social networks and enjoy interests outside the workplace and at home.

Practice selfcare

It is said that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first before taking care of others. Whether that is staying indoors over the weekend, practising affirmations, cutting out toxic friendships or simply unplugging from the internet. Read More on selfcare here.

Be aware of the symptoms of mental illness

Awareness is an important part of caring for your mental health. Knowing what symptoms to look out for is key to help with your mental wellbeing, especially because one’s mental health will vary throughout their life.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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PPDKenya at the New Pampers Premium Care Launch in partnership with SupaMamas

Supamamas Pampers Premium Launch

This past weekend, we were invited to join Supamamas at the New Pampers Premium Care Launch. The event was held at PrideInn Rhapta Road. As expected, the event’s audience drew from various professionals in the maternal field, pregnant women and new moms.

Insightful session on pregnancy and beyond

Alongside launching the New Pampers Premium Care, the colorful event covered a number of topics related to pregnancy and motherhood. These insightful sessions were made possible by the panel that included:

  • Ciru Ciera of Nurturing Moms
  • Susan Muriithi of TotoTouch
  • Nurse Consolata
  • Hamida Ahmed, a psychologist based in Westlands, Nairobi.

Some of the topics that were covered included:

  • self care during pregnancy and beyond
  • welcoming baby
  • breastfeeding
  • postpartum depression

Maternal Blues and Postpartum Depression

Psychologist Hamida adequately spoke about maternal blues and Postpartum Depression (PPD). There is a difference between maternal blues and PPD. Maternal Blues affect upto 80% of new moms, are short-lived and do not often need treatment. PPD on the other hand, affects 1 in 7 moms, lasts up to a year after childbirth (longer if undiagnosed) and requires treatment.

Read More: Maternal blues and Postpartum depression – What is the difference?

She also emphasized that there was no health without mental health. Hamida also highlighted the symptoms of Postpartum Depression, and how moms can get help. Treatment for PPD includes psychotherapy, medication and support group therapy.

PPDKenya was well-represented by our founder, Samoina. She shared on the work that the organization does in offering psychosocial support for moms with PPD. PPDKenya also advocates for maternal mental health. Some of the lovely moms who have benefited from PPDKenya’s support groups in the past year were also present at the launch.

We would like to thank the team at Supamamas for putting together a great event for moms and moms-to-be.

Below are some photos from the event, and you can view the full album here.

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Mental360 discussion forum on World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day was observed on the 10th of October this year under the theme, ‘Youth and Mental Health in a changing world’.

“Adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life when many changes occur, for example changing schools, leaving home, and starting university or a new job. For many, these are exciting times. They can also be times of stress and apprehension however. In some cases, if not recognized and managed, these feelings can lead to mental illness. The expanding use of online technologies, while undoubtedly bringing many benefits, can also bring additional pressures, as connectivity to virtual networks at any time of the day and night grows. Many adolescents are also living in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies such as conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics. Young people living in situations such as these are particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness.” (source)

This snippet from the WHO organization shares on why mental health awareness is important, particularly in the youth. Statistics show that 50% of all mental illnesses typically start at the age of 14. The fact that many of these illnesses go undiagnosed and untreated among the youth means it is a major issue in many countries across the world.

In Kenya, research shows that depression and anxiety are the leading mental illnesses, especially in the youth. It is against this background that different stakeholders sought to host a discussion forum on mental health and the youth. This is important because it not only allows the youth to build mental fortitude, it also creates awareness and allows them to seek for help.


In Kenya, Mental 360 exists to promote mental health by raising awareness, creating support systems for the youth and advocating for the rights of persons experiencing mental health challenges. On 11th October 2018, the team held a forum with the aim of engaging stakeholders to find out how to improve the mental health of the youth in Kenya.

PPDKenya was invited to talk about teen pregnancies and how this predisposes teen and young moms to Postpartum Depression. One of our team members, Lindsey, also share a moving account of her PPD story and what we can do to help moms living with PPD. Here are snippets from that conversation:

Teen pregnancy, also known as adolescence pregnancy, is pregnancy that occurs in females below 20 years. Some of the risk factors associated with teen pregnancies include:

  • Lack of sex education
  • Broken families and especially where kids are exposed to violence
  • Sexual abuse
  • Harmful cultural practices that include early marriages and FGM
  • Peer pressure to fit in
  • The glamorization of teen pregnancy and the influence of the media

Read More: Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Owing to the challenges of teen pregnancy, teen and young moms are predisposed to PPD. PPD typically affects at least 20% of new moms, but the rates are higher in teens at approximately 36%. This risk increases significantly in teens who have lived with mental illnesses. What’s more, for teens with mental illnesses, pregnancy and parenting only aggravates the condition.

How can we help teen moms?

  • By recognizing that teen pregnancy does not mean that one cannot be successful in life.
  • By reducing the stigma against teen moms.
  • By helping them get the medical help they need.
  • By supporting them to go back to school through the ‘return-to-school’ policy
  • By listening and empathising with them, and providing a safe space for them to share.
  • By addressing the socioeconomic risk factors at the heart of teen pregnancies – poverty, harmful cultural practices, access to sex education and sexual violence. A holistic approach is required by different stakeholders – the Ministry of Health, leaders of religious institutions, schools, Youth-led organizations such as Mental 360 and the civil society among others.

Below are some of the images from the event.


UPDATE: We recently had this conversation on our bimonthly tweetchats. Catch up with that thread here

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Every year, October 15th marks the World Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) day. The goal of this day is to, first and foremost, recognize the loss that so many parents have experienced, as well as to create awareness on pregnancy and infant loss.

In Kenya, Still A Mum, a charity organization that is actively working to reduce maternal and newborn mortality, will be marking this day with a two-day conference. In the last three years, Still A Mum has been marking this event through awareness campaigns, both on print and visual media as well as through different activities including tree planting.

This year however, Still A Mum is taking a different approach. The two-day conference includes two events and the awards gala. The two events will focus on training medical professions who work in the maternal and pediatric field as well as the second that targets expectant women & their partners as well as new parents.

The awards gala will be held to appreciate individuals, professionals and organizations that are making a difference in maternal care across the world. The gala will also be held to mark Still A Mum’s third year and map the way forward.

Here’s the program for the 2018 Still A Mum Conference:

1. Client Centered Health Care –this will be a training for medical staff that work in maternity and pediatric departments. Friday 12th Oct 2018 8am -4pm.

Client Centred Health Care

2. Healthy Mom Healthy Baby –this event targets pregnant women and their partners as well as new moms and dads. Saturday 13th Oct 2018 8am -4pm. 
Some of the topics to be covered are:

– Safe pregnancy habits, danger signs to watch out for, nutrition etc
– Labor & Delivery – preparing for delivery, when a CS is needed, picking a health facility etc
– Newborn and infant care – breastfeeding, weaning, SIDS
– Postpartum care for mom – healing after a CS or episiotomy, postpartum depression etc

Healthy Baby, Healthy Mom

The event will be at Nairobi Hospital Auditorium. The cost is per person and food will be provided. Buy your ticket TODAY. Tickets can be collected after payment from the Still A Mum offices.

3. Still A Mum Awards Gala – This will be a dinner gala to award exceptional individuals, brands and companies in maternal and newborn care. The gala will also be a celebration as Still A Mum turns 3 and a fundraising dinner to raise money for our 2019 operations. It will take place on the evening of Saturday 13th Oct 2018 at the 12th Floor of the Nairobi Convection Center.

Still A Mum Awards Gala Night

PS: Tickets are going for KShs 500 EACH for the Client Centred Health Care and the Healthy Mom Healthy Baby events , and 2000 for the awards gala. Did we mention the ticket price is inclusive of food? Yes! Do get your ticket! You can sponsor a mom too! Here’s how to make payments.

Paybill 830282

Account Number – 1210 – PPDKenya 

Amount – 500

PS: You can also vote for your preferred organization, one that you feel has made a great contribution to Kenya’s maternal health sector, Vote here.

UPDATE: Read More about how the event went down here.



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