May is Mental Health Awareness Month and, for some of our clients, that becomes Maternal Mental Health Month. This month is a time to focus on the importance of mental health during pregnancy and shortly after birth. According to the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, 1 in 5 women will experience symptoms of maternal mental health disorders during or after a pregnancy; 75% of women who experience these symptoms go untreated. At our health department and in our communities, we want to help to decrease that percentage by raising awareness about the importance of self care. The first step we take to do this is to educate mothers about signs and symptoms to watch for such as: feeling hopeless, helpless, angry, guilty, regretful, easily stressed, worried, or overwhelmed. Other signs of mood disorders to watch for are a lack of motivation, energy, or feeling on edge/panicked.
At the Southeast Utah Health Department, we care about the mental health of our clients. We screen each pregnant woman and newly postpartum mom each time they visit our office for a WIC appointment, Baby Your Baby visit, Parents as Teachers visit, or immunization appointment. The screening is a very simple electronic questionnaire that provides a numeric score upon completion. Based on the score, we can give our clients a few options that best fit their needs.
We can refer pregnant or new mothers to local physicians, mental health providers, or to a virtual option consisting of education, resources, and a virtual support group that teaches skills that help improve mental health. These referrals are always based on a client's need and level of comfort.
According to Maternal Mental Health Utah, 43% of Utah residents with a recent live birth were affected by depression or anxiety. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness or failure. You deserve the best for you and your baby! Contact our office today to find ways we can help.
Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance - https://www.mmhla.org/
Maternal Mental Health Utah - https://mihp.utah.gov/maternal-mental-health