Somewhere between 500,000 and 750,000 pregnant and new moms experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression each and every year. That’s more than are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. And yet the stigma, shame and lack of good resources for moms with maternal mental illnesses mean that only 15% of those women get the professional help they need.
At Postpartum Progress, it’s an all-out full court press to raise awareness and provide peer support for moms who struggle so that we can increase the number who recognize when they need help, know where to get it, and feel safe asking for it. This is key, because we know that untreated PPD in moms leads to problems in cognitive development, poorer school performance, increased aggression, increased substance abuse and increased likelihood of future psychiatric illness in their children. This is a public health problem that we can’t afford to allow to grow year after year, and yet there’s almost no attention and even less funding to support maternal mental health despite the fact that it is clearly crucial to family health.
Part of our efforts include our annual event called Climb Out of the Darkness®, the world’s largest event raising awareness of maternal mental illnesses such as postpartum depression (PPD), anxiety, OCD and psychosis. As part of the Climb, survivors all over the world organize to hike or walk at a local mountain or park to symbolize their collective rise out of the darkness and stigma of maternal mental illnesses. The event is always held on or near the longest day of the year – the summer solstice – so that we can shine the most possible light on maternal mental illness.
Climb Out is truly mom-powered. It is local moms who volunteer to lead each Climb, rallying together friends, family and the community to meet in one location and walk together to show that maternal mental health is important. Most of them are survivors who have been profoundly impacted by their own struggle and feel a calling to give back and ensure other mothers don’t suffer in silence. In 2014, one of those leaders was FIT4MOM franchisee Kristin Jacobsen. Kristin led the Climb in Olympia, Washington, and is leading the same team again this year.
“I was in the process of buying my franchise during the 2014 Climb, and I saw such a natural fit between FIT4MOM and Postpartum Progress. At FIT4MOM we give moms the strength for motherhood,” explains Kristin. “We all know that strength includes exercise and also a village and community of supportive moms. FIT4MOM programs helped me climb out of the darkness of postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression, and I love being able to bring the safe space of FIT4MOM and the safe space of Postpartum Progress and Climb Out of the Darkness to all the moms in my community.”
On Saturday, June 20th, we’re so excited to host our third annual Climb Out of the Darkness. In 2014, more than 1,500 participants joined Climbs in 7 countries around the world, up from 200 participants in the inaugural 2013 Climb. This year we already have more than 1,000 registered Climbers with a month left to go, and teams in nearly every state and Canada. They’ve already raised $90,000, almost half of our fundraising goal. We encourage anyone who cares about maternal mental health to join us by registering.
DID YOU KNOW…
Postpartum depression, which affects 1 in every 7 women, is the most common complication of childbirth.
Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression are temporary and treatable with professional help.
Only 15 percent of women will seek help for their disorder - this means there are hundreds of thousands of untreated moms suffering without treatment for their PPD each year.
- Ninety-five percent of respondents to an audience impact survey reported that Postpartum Progress helped them learn more about mood and anxiety disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period; 79 percent reported Postpartum Progress helped them recognize they were suffering from a maternal mental illness.