Two weeks ago, the team at Voice of Islam UK got in touch with us to share on maternal mental health in Kenya, and the organization’s flagship project, #ElimishaMama. This feature was in honor of World Maternal Mental Health Day.
Research shows that 1 in 5 women will go through a mental illness at one point in their lives. Maternal mental illnesses range from Postpartum Depression to postpartum anxiety, PTSD and Psychosis.
Our founder, Samoina, was one of the guests during the drive time show, alongside Rosey (Founder- #PNDHour), Dr. Andrew Mayers and Lilu Wheeler. Catch the recording of that conversation below, with the interview segment beginning at 1:29:20
Samoina shared on the social stigma attached to maternal mental health in Kenya, how Elimisha Mama is helping pregnant women and new mothers in Kenya, the intersection of faith and maternal mental health as well as the role of the fathers.
We’d like to thank the production team: Ayesha Naseem, Faiza Mirza and Nudrat Qasim for creating awareness on maternal mental health.
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
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)
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
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
Get information on maternal mental
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.
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
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.
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 email@example.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.
World Maternal Mental Health Day WMMHD is observed on the first Wednesday of May each year. The day has been in existence since 2016 when a group of maternal mental health advocates, persons with lived experience, mental health care professionals and even academicians came together to bring awareness to maternal mental health.
The main message around WMMHD is that Maternal Mental Health Matters. Everyone needs to know about maternal mental health, the signs and symptoms to look out for as well as where to get treatment and support.
Every year, organizations from all over the world join effort in creating awareness about maternal mental health. This is mainly done through localized events and a collective social media campaign under the #WMMHD and #MaternalMHMatters.
PPDKenya marking World Maternal Mental Health Day
Did you know that 1 in
5 new mothers will get a maternal mental illness? These conditions will often
go untreated, largely due to lack of awareness and poor access to treatment and
support. The truth is that Maternal Mental illness does not discriminate.
Women, regardless of their age, socioeconomic status, religion, orientation and
culture can get a maternal mental illness. Increasing this awareness goes a
long way in helping affected women get the help they need.
As one of the global partners, Postpartum Depression Kenya is delighted to join the social media push to sensitize the community on maternal mental health and why it matters. By joining this campaign, PPDKenya contributes to the global effort to ensure that more women get professional medical help, and fewer suffer in silence.
How PPDKenya is
This year, PPDKenya is
involved in a number of ways:
Through partnering with Weza Dada for the maternal mental health forum (happened on 27.04.2019) See more images here.
Through the Elimisha Mama Project at Akshar Healthcare Facility, read about it here.
Through a photography project that depicts what Postpartum Depression looks like.
is the most common childbirth complication
Postpartum Depression is the most common maternal mental illness, affecting 1 in every 7 new mothers. In Kenya and other low income countries, the rates are thought to be higher, largely due to low awareness and stigma associated with mental illness. In addition to this, mothers who experience gender-based violence, sexual abuse, lack of support (both from the family and the community) are at increased risk of maternal mental illness. Early intervention and treatment for these illnesses is key for both mother and child.
As we seek to raise
awareness this month (and beyond), we are cognizant of the struggles that many Kenyan
mothers face. The stigma associated with (maternal) mental illness makes it
harder for affected mothers to speak out and get the help they need. For this
year’s WMMHD, one of the ways PPDKenya is observing the day is through the use
The photo project is the brainchild of Postpartum Depression Kenya and Kiarii Kimani Photography. Kiarii Kimani is one of PPDKenya’s partners, and whose brilliant portfolio speaks for itself.
“Motherhood doesn’t come naturally to all women. For some it is a struggle especially because of their psychological make-up. I feel that my images can lend a voice to getting many women psychotherapy in this case dealing with PPD,” Kiarii says.
Kiarii Kimani is passionate about mental health, and through this photo project, helps to express what mothers with Postpartum Depression go through.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
Hamida Ahmed, a psychologist based in Westlands, Nairobi.
Some of the topics that were covered included:
self care during pregnancy and beyond
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.
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.