Tag: Maternal Mental Health Awareness

Practical ways to get involved in Maternal Mental Health Awareness

maternal mental health matters

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. All of this month, organizations all over the world join efforts in raising awareness on maternal mental health issues so that more women will get the treatment they need, and fewer will suffer in silence. This, according to the World Maternal Mental Health Day website is so that women living with perinatal mental health conditions can get the help they need.

This has, for the most part involved organizations sharing the activities they are involved in to help women with maternal mental illnesses.

PPDKenya engagement in the #MaternalMHMatters awareness campaign

  • On social media by sharing content that highlights maternal mental health issues under the hashtags #MaternalMHMatters and #PPDKenya (Follow us on our social media pages by clicking the tabs on the top right hand side of this page)
  • Sharing personal stories of Kenyan moms who have lived with a maternal mental illness, received help and made a recovery/are recovering. Read One Kenyan mom’s story on Postpartum Depression and getting treatment through PPDKEnya (link)
  • Through Elimisha Mama, PPDKenya’s flagship project that creates awareness through psychoeducative sessions at partnering hospitals. #ElimishaMama
  • Through a photo project in partnership with Kiarii Kimani Photography, dubbed Mother’s Mind. Mother’s Mind is a project that depicts the emotions that mothers with a mental illness go through, in a bid to reduce the stigma and discrimination that comes with maternal mental illness.

How can you get involved in the maternal mental health awareness at a personal level?

Statistics show that 1 in 5 women will experience a maternal mental illness at one point in their life. To put this in perspective, in any given chama of 20 women, 4 women are at risk of a maternal mental illness. How then, can individuals get involved in creating awareness on maternal mental health? Below are practical ways in which you can join the global drive to push for better maternal mental health care and combat stigma in the community.

Get information on maternal mental illnesses.

Reading about maternal mental health allows you to educate yourself on what the illnesses are, the symptoms and treatment options available. The PPDKenya website provides resourceful information on maternal mental health, and you can read more under the ‘Blog’ section.

It is also important to know places where you can get help. PPDKenya has created a database (that we are continually adding to, so if you are a mental health care provider, please get in touch and we will add you to the database) for mental health care providers in different parts of the country. This way, we are able to refer moms and make a follow-up to help in their recovery journey.

Read More: Postpartum Depression in new dads

Talk about maternal mental health

Ask the mothers in your networks how they are really feeling. It is not enough to ask – ask and mean it. This provides mothers who have a mental illness with the chance to open up and ask for help.

Create a non-judgemental space

The stigma and shame that is associated with maternal mental illness makes it difficult for moms to speak out. Creating a non-judgemental space means you need to listen and encourage her without making assumptions. Avoid using words like ‘crazy’ ‘bad mom’ or even ‘mad woman’.

Part of creating a safe space for a mom includes reminding her that she is not alone, that maternal mental illness is not her fault and that she can make a recovery with professional help. Make an effort to check in with her regularly.

Offer practical ways to help moms who are at risk of maternal mental illness

The first few days after birth can be overwhelming for new moms. Moms who do not have support or help at home are at risk of maternal mental illness. One of the ways you can help such a mom is to offer practical help. Clearing the sink, mopping the house, folding laundry or even just babysitting so that the new mother can have a long bath worry-free are some practical ways you can help such a mom to offer support.

Read More: Moms share 5 things they wish they knew about Postpartum Depression

Share your own story

Sharing personal stories on maternal mental health is also a powerful way of creating awareness on maternal mental health. For many women who have lived with a personal experience, the lingering thought of whether it is important is always present. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), sharing one’s experience with a maternal mental illness provides connectedness with others. It also reduces societal stigma by normalizing mental illness, both online and offline. It gives a voice for those who may not be able to speak about their experiences, and this goes a long way in creating social change.

#PPDMyStory

PPDKenya started a new series called #PPDMyStory where we are inviting Kenyan moms to share their stories on maternal mental illness, treatment and the journey to recovery. Are you interested in sharing your story (whether publicly or anonymously?) Drop us an email ppdkenya@gmail.com with the Subject heading PPDMyStory.

Other ways to get involved include volunteering with organizations that share on maternal mental health (we are looking for volunteers!), participating in maternal mental health forums and sharing resourceful information within our networks.

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Introducing the ‘Elimisha Mama’ Program

Elimisha Mama Program by PPDKenya

Motherhood is often thought to be a magical experience. For 1 in 7 new mothers who suffer Postpartum Depression, this may not always be the case. Maternal mental illness can be very lonely and isolating.

Unfortunately, Kenya’s shortage of mental health specialists means that many mothers do not get the treatment that they need. There are just about 62 psychiatrists serving a population of 49.7 million people. These glaring gaps in the mental health sector paint a grim picture.

Gaps that exist in Kenya’s maternal mental health field

Some of the gaps that exist in Kenya’s maternal mental health include:

  • Low awareness of maternal mental health in the society
  • Stigma surrounding (maternal) mental disorders
  • Discrimination against mothers who have a mental illness, making it hard for them to reach out for help.

The ‘Elimisha Mama’ Program

‘Elimisha Mama’, Swahili for ‘Educate a Mother’ is PPDKenya’s flagship project that seeks to address these gaps. The program seeks to incorporate maternal mental health into routine antenatal and postpartum clinics. The aim of the program is to create awareness on maternal mental health as well as provide psychosocial support for moms with a mental illness.

The program takes a two-pronged approach:

  • offering psychoeducative talks during Antenatal and Postpartum Clinics
  • pregnant women and new mothers who screen positive for a maternal mental illness get psychological help. Peer supporters from PPDKenya will also offer psychosocial support onsite. Severe cases will be escalated to the hospital’s psychiatric department.

PPDKenya partnership with Akshar Healthcare Facility, Kikuyu

The Elimisha Mama program rolled out on April 3rd 2019. This was made possible following the partnership between PPDKenya and Akshar Healthcare Facility. Akshar Healthcare, formerly known as Kikuyu Nursing Home, was established in 2012. The health facility takes great pride in providing professional and compassionate care for its patients.

Akshar offers the following services:

  • out-patient and inpatient services
  • immunization
  • dental care
  • psychiatric care
  • maternity services.

The availability of maternity and psychiatric services at Akshar provides a solid foundation for Elimisha Mama.

Antenatal Clinics at the health facility run every Wednesday. Volunteers who would like to join us for Elimisha Mama can email ppdkenya@gmail.com

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