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Yesterday was Bell Let’s Talk Day in Canada and I was really surprised by the number of comments I saw saying that we need to stop talking about mental health. It occurred to me that most people do not understand what stigma is.
I’m going to give a breakdown of why we need to talk more about Maternal Mental Health.
1. Not talking about it perpetuates the stigma about mental health and that it's a fluff illness.
2. Because of stigma parents do not reach out for help.
3. Without help and treatment, people suffer in silence which leads to making the situation worse.
4. Maternal suicide is a leading cause of death in postpartum women.
So tell me again why we need to stop talking about this!
What we need to do is do is talk more - not just on Bell Lets Talk Day. We need to talk about mental health honestly not just a text or social media posts. We need to speak openly with the people in our families. We need to talk to our friends and co-workers. We need to talk often and openly and more than one day of the year because we need to break down stigma.
Did you know that none of the major mental health organizations have maternal mental health as a part of their mandate? We need these organization to come together and work with our provinces to create a national strategy for maternal mental health. We need to take the onus off of new mothers for reaching out for help when they may not even know they are ill.
We need a strategy that includes screening, referral pathways and treatment options for Canadian mothers and not just the lucky ones who have won the postal code lottery.
All of this is why on Bell Lets Talk Day we talked. We talked a lot with the #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth hashtag. We reached over 5 million impressions with over 1000 people participating.
But we did more than talk. We held in person events where parents were able to get together and talk about self-care and mental wellness. Over 150 mothers and their babies came out to Indigo stores across the country.
I share my story a lot. I talked about maternal mental health a lot. I believe the storytelling saves lives and parents need to know that they’re not alone. But that’s not all I do - I run the Life With A Baby which chapters across the country where we focussed heavily on preventing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders through peer support.
I advocate for mothers. Last year working with the Perinatal Mental Health Coalition Canada we submitted a letter to get Maternal Mental Health on the agenda for the National Health Ministers' meeting. I also submitted a brief for the Great Canadian Healthcare Debate to get more people aware of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders and push for screening.
To all the people who are saying we should talk less, I hope that you are doing something.
I hope you are advocating for mental health.
I hope you’re creating safe places.
I hope you are sharing resources.
I hope you are breaking down barriers.
Because if all you are doing is calling out people who are trying to make a difference - we need less of that.
I'm grateful to Bell for starting the Lets Talk campaign now it's up to each of us to push for me and create lasting change in our local communities and across Canada.