Honouring Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

Written by: Sabeeha Azmi

Photo by ckybe on Freepik

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month is observed each year during May and stands as a reminder for all about the often-overlooked challenges endured by mothers all around the world. With a society that frequently glorifies motherhood, the toll it can take on their emotional and overall well-being is all the while neglected. Therefore, this month serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of supporting maternal mental health and well-being. 

Motherhood is a multifaceted journey, marked by moments of joy and elation. But through this remarkable journey, mothers could also face stress and periods of adjustment. From the beginning of pregnancy to postpartum, mothers are constantly navigating a whirlwind of emotional and physical changes. Amidst the excitement and wonder of welcoming a new life into this world, many mothers wrestle with anxiety, worry, and other mental health conditions (Howard et al., 2014). 

When we analyse the statistics of maternal mental health, it underscores the urgency and importance of this area of well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that approximately 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have newly given birth experience a mental health condition and distress. Primarily of serious concern is experiencing depression (O’Hara & McCabe, 2013). It is essential to note, however, that these statistics likely underestimate the true scale and prevalence of maternal mental health struggles due to stigma around the topic and underreporting. 

One of the main objectives of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month is to break the stigma that surrounds maternal mental health struggles. Society tends to perpetuate the myth and idea of the “perfect mother”, setting unrealistic and high standards that mothers are expected to live up to. These ideas might lead to and contribute to feelings of inadequacy and shame among mothers who are experiencing struggles and difficulties adjusting (Tachibana et al., 2020). By raising awareness, openly fostering conversations, and providing mothers with a platform and a safe and accepting space to share their experiences, this month encourages mothers to seek support and health without the fear of judgement. 

Furthermore, Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a great opportunity to highlight the resources that are available for mothers to access support for their well-being. From therapy, counselling, and support groups, to online forums and helplines, several avenues can be presented for mothers to get the support that they deserve. Through the promotion of awareness of these resources, individuals around mothers and communities together can better equip mothers with tools to prioritise their mental well-being. 

An important aspect of this month is that it encourages and acts as a reminder for healthcare providers to think about and give priority to maternal mental health in their practices (Selix et al., 2017). Routine screenings can be carried out for perinatal and postnatal mood, anxiety, and other related conditions. This can help identify at-risk mothers and connect them with the appropriate support and care that is needed (Waqas et al., 2022). By integrating mental health assessments into routine prenatal and postnatal/postpartum care, healthcare providers could play a vital role in early detection, intervention, and support (Selix et al., 2017). 

Additionally, Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month calls attention to factors beyond individual and clinical efforts. It brings light to the systemic factors that can contribute to disparities when it comes to maternal mental health. There are socioeconomic factors such as poverty and limited or lack of access to healthcare that can disproportionately impact communities, which could exacerbate maternal mental health challenges (Glazer & Howell, 2021). Advocacy during this month, therefore, also illustrates the need for policies that address and aim to bridge these disparities to ensure that there is equitable access to mental health support, care, and services for all mothers. 

In conclusion, Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month is a powerful reminder that motherhood comes with joys as well as struggles, and that seeking support is a sign of strength and resilience and not a weakness. Throughout this month, we should aim to foster understanding, empathy, support, and compassion, so that we can create communities and environments where mothers feel empowered and encouraged to prioritise and take care of their mental well-being. Together, by listening, by raising awareness, by breaking down stigma, we can build a future where every mother receives the support that they deserve, assuring and affirming that maternal mental health is a priority all year around. 


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Howard, L. M., Molyneaux, E., Dennis, C.-L., Rochat, T., Stein, A., & Milgrom, J. (2014). Non-psychotic mental disorders in the perinatal period. The Lancet, 384(9956), 1775–1788. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(14)61276-9

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O’Hara, M. W., & McCabe, J. E. (2013). Postpartum depression: Current status and Future Directions. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 9(1), 379–407. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-050212-185612

Selix, N., Henshaw, E., Barrera, A., Botcheva, L., Huie, E., & Kaufman, G. (2017). Interdisciplinary collaboration in Maternal Mental Health. MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 42(4), 226–231. https://doi.org/10.1097/nmc.0000000000000343

Tachibana, Y., Koizumi, N., Mikami, M., Shikada, K., Yamashita, S., Shimizu, M., Machida, K., & Ito, H. (2020). An Integrated Community Mental Healthcare Program to reduce suicidal ideation and improve maternal mental health during the postnatal period: The findings from the Nagano Trial. BMC Psychiatry, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-020-02765-z

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Perinatal depression. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/perinatal-depression

Waqas, A., Koukab, A., Meraj, H., Dua, T., Chowdhary, N., Fatima, B., & Rahman, A. (2022). Screening programs for common maternal mental health disorders among perinatal women: Report of the systematic review of evidence. BMC Psychiatry, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-022-03694-9

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Maternal mental health. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/promotion-prevention/maternal-mental-health#:~:text=Virtually%20all%20women%20can%20develop,generally%20increase%20risks%20for%20specific