We’re the New Moms in Town
When it comes to working with moms and maternal mental health there are a lot of players in the game. Advocacy and awareness organizations, support groups, healthcare payers, researchers, providers, government, private industry and the list goes on. With so many people paying attention to moms and their mental health where do we fit? And this begs the question – do we need another platform and yet another organization to address maternal mental health. The short answer is yes.
Socially it’s becoming more acceptable to talk about things like postpartum depression and anxiety, and the realities of managing ongoing mental illness while also trying to parent at the same time. While the boundaries of social convention are being pushed, they’re not translating into resources, tools and programs to help moms. More often than not moms aren’t asked or consulted about what they need and want in order to help manage their depression, or practical tools to learn to handle anxiety at home. If they are asked often access issues keep them from getting the help they need to get better – quicker.
Moms Need Better Help
We consistently hear from moms that when they do ask for help with their mental health they’re often met with blank stares, inconsistent messages and bad information. Or that they have no ability to pay for medication that may be prescribed. No way to get to in person therapy appointments. It takes an incredible amount of courage to reach out and ask for help regardless of how old your child is. If you’re then to presented with limited options that don’t really fit with your life – it prevents so many from getting help and feeling like themselves again.
So that’s where we come in. The Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative is a peer-led, patient-driven initiative specifically focused on raising the voice of moms of all ages with lived experience with mental illness. We’re building partnerships with researchers, providers, private industry and other maternal mental health organizations to build a platform for moms to get actively involved in research and creating tools and resources that are we actually need. Things we might actually use, and at the same time equipping moms with valuable skills in the research process.
Moms Can Be Researchers – Believe It!
We’re approaching research engagement from two angles. First of all we know that millions of dollars are spent annually on research related to maternal mental illnesses like postpartum depression. Many times these studies fail or can’t be completed because they simply can’t find enough moms to participate. Or these studies wrap up and the findings are incredible and because the results aren’t widely shared, no one knows about the work that’s been done. It hides in an academic journal somewhere and gathers dust. Through our partnership with Clara Health, we’re going to enable moms to quickly get involved in clinical research trials that are recruiting participants. This is going to be an easy way for moms to the involved and turn their passion for advocacy and awareness into immediate action.
Our second approach to research is to set our own agenda and priorities based on your feedback and involvement with us. We want to build the largest online network of moms with lived experience with mental illness and ask you to participate in determining where we focus our research efforts. Many times the questions that moms want answered don’t reflect where research dollars are flowing. We want to change that and with your help and enthusiasm we’ll be able to clearly set an agenda that is mom-powered.
We Need Your Help
There’s so much more to come including our Patient Expert Program, online training and resources to help you learn about the research process, and lots of social sharing. We’re not afraid to push the envelope and have conversations about hard topics. Topics that are still taboo or that very few people talk about. Things like miscarriage and pregnancy loss, birth trauma, and substance use. Painful topics like the rage and anger that can accompany depression, the long term impact of mental health on relationships with partners, and the many ways that we engage in self-harm.
We’re the new moms in town and we’re here to change the game when it comes to maternal mental health and patient engagement in research. Join us, like us, follow us – we’re just getting started.