She wanted to tell someone. Anyone.
But telling came at a big price. The should have’s. The should do’s. The you should not’s.
And she just couldn’t face it.
Our research shows that 3 of 4 women can’t start the conversation that leads to them sharing concerns about their emotional health.
We’ve also learned that if someone else starts that conversation, 97% of women could open up.
Our research shows that the top barriers that keep women from expressing their concerns, fears and worries about their mental health are:
- Their partner, friend, or a family member has told them that emotional struggles are “normal” for pregnancy, everyone goes through it, and it will pass.
- They don’t know what is “normal” and “not normal” for pregnancy.
- They want to manage things on their own. They worry that if they talk, they’ll be advised to go on antidepressants.
- They worry that their concerns won’t be taken seriously
- They worry about being seen as a bad mother.
- They don’t want to be seen as “depressed” or “anxious.”
On the flip side, women have shared with us that there are some things that would help them talk:
- Knowing that other women struggle, too, with emotional challenges in pregnancy.
- Knowing that there is help available.
- Having a listener who is sensitive, caring, and interested.
And – 3 of 4 pregnant women told us that they would rather start the conversation about emotional health with their partner, friend, or family than a doctor, midwife or nurse.
#LetsTalk: What Can You Do?
- Become aware. Mental health problems are the most common complication of pregnancy (13-25%). Waiting to start the conversation until after the baby is born is too little, too late.
- Be sensitive.
- Start the conversation. Many women are waiting for that open door. Permission to start the conversation. Make it easy for them. A good starting point can be, “You don’t seem yourself. Are you OK?” The words are far less important than the “reach out” in the spirit of caring and compassion.
- Start the conversation EARLIER. A recent HuffPost article commented on #BellLetsTalk, not including maternal mental health. But – research over the past few years consistently shows that anxiety and depression are more common in pregnancy than postpartum. Let’s start the conversation EARLIER
- Kingston D, Austin MP, Heaman M, et al. Barriers and facilitators of mental health screening in pregnancy. J Affect Disord. 2015;186:350-357.
- Time to Change: Starting the Conversation
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