Announcing the Warrior Mom Ambassador Program

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Warrior Mom Ambassadors

Postpartum Progress is launching its official community volunteer program, called the Warrior Mom™ Ambassadors. The Ambassadors are women who have survived perinatal mood and anxiety disorders who want to work with us to build a network that supports meaningful change – a core group that wants to do more in their cities and towns than they are already doing to provide peer support and spread the word about maternal mental health.

A Warrior Mom ambassador will apply by filling out an application and signing an official volunteer agreement. If selected, she will become a key lead in her community representing Postpartum Progress in peer outreach and awareness. There can be more than one ambassador in a community by the way, and together you will make up a loosely organized Postpartum Progress “embassy.” Our only requirement is that you must be willing to work with others. Remember the Postpartum Progress tagline: together, stronger.

A Warrior Mom Ambassador is a mom who wants to support other moms in her community. She wants to raise awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and reduce stigma. She is willing to share her own story publicly. She is willing to learn the facts about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders so that she can share that evidence-based knowledge with others. She is willing to participate in free training opportunities provided by Postpartum Progress to be the best peer supporter she can be. She has been looking for a way to become more officially involved with Postpartum Progress.

If you are already volunteering in a large capacity for another organization becoming a Warrior Mom Ambassador is not for you — at least not at this time. This is because we want to make SURE we do not take your valuable efforts and time away from other nonprofits doing good work in the maternal mental health space. In the end all these things help moms and that’s good.

How much time will it take to be a Warrior Mom Ambassador? To be honest, we’re not sure. This is a new program. But we feel very strongly about working closely with our ambassadors to learn what works and what doesn’t so we can make this the best volunteer program it can be.

What do we expect of you? That you don’t sign up to be an Ambassador in name only. We can see the difference, I promise you, between Warrior Moms who really put in some time and effort on the projects we put out there and the ones who don’t. That’s perfectly fine because not every volunteer can do as much. We’ll still have lots of volunteers who don’t want to be Ambassadors – they might just want to help share our messages via social media, or join a Climb, or work on a single project – and those moms will remain important to us. An Ambassador is just a higher level of volunteer in a smaller group who will have more opportunities to lead in her community and will have more access to our resources. If you become an Ambassador and end up not being able to put in the time — life happens, right? — then we’ll just ask you to go back to being a regular volunteer. Which is still great. No harm, no foul. And you can always apply to be an Ambassador again when you have more time.

We’ll also expect that you’ll be willing to conduct outreach to ALL moms and not just moms of your style, neighborhood, religion, lifestyle, ethnicity, etc. Being an Ambassador is not for you if you aren’t willing to get outside your comfort zone to speak to and support moms who may not look like you or have your same cultural beliefs. We’ll provide you with lots of support on this so you don’t feel like you’re going it alone. We just want to make sure Postpartum Progress is for all moms.

What can you expect from us? That we will do everything we can to support you. As you know we believe in servant leadership and providing peers with the tools they need to help others. We promise that will continue. We will continue to provide you our materials freely for distribution and any training opportunities we provide will be free to you as well.

What are the benefits of becoming a Warrior Mom Ambassador?

  • First dibs on Warrior Mom Conference tickets before they go on sale to the public
  • A 20% discount code for Warrior Mom merchandise
  • The opportunity to lead scientific research efforts in your area (as we are able to conduct through funding and partnerships) by helping us enroll local participants for that research
  • Local media interview opportunities if we are contacted by media in your area
  • Peer support and other types of peer-related training (as we are able to provide it through funding and partnerships)
  • Whatever other cool stuff we come up with … and you know we will!


What if I don’t want to be an Ambassador but would like to work on one project, for instance being a Climb Out of the Darkness team leader in your town? NOT A PROBLEM. Keep doing what you do girl! We love you!!

What are your selection criteria? We want to know why you’d like to do this and what your goals are and whether they match our organizational mission. We want to know if you have the time and wherewithal to get out there and raise awareness and support our efforts. And, to be honest, if we already have a relationship with you in some capacity because you have been a Climb leader or have attended the Warrior Mom conference or volunteered for us in some other capacity, that will make a big difference. So if you’re thinking you’d like to become an Ambassador next year or the year after, we’d suggest getting involved with us in some capacity and seeing what we’re about. We’d love to get to know you!

If I become an official Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom Ambassador can I still collaborate with other local organizations? Of course!! Absolutely!! Without question!!

If I become an official Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom Ambassador will I have to participate in every single Postpartum Progress project and program? No. There will be some things we’ll ask everyone to do and some things that will be optional. For example, we expect every ambassador to participate in her local Climb Out of the Darkness climb, but we don’t expect nor would we require every ambassador to be a Climb team leader (though we know many who will apply already are team leaders).

Is there a deadline to apply? No. This is an ongoing, rolling application process. We’ll be adding new volunteers all the time. So whenever you’re ready, let us know!

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Climb Out of the Darkness Local Grant Applications Now Open!

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Climb Out of the Darkness GrantsPostpartum Progress’ Climb Out of the Darkness® is the world’s largest event raising awareness of maternal mental illnesses like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety & OCD, postpartum PTSD, postpartum psychosis, postpartum bipolar disorder, and pregnancy depression and anxiety. In 2015, more than $240,000 was raised during this event, an almost 40 percent increase over 2014. In addition, 2,500 Climbers participated in teams worldwide, an increase of 60 percent over 2014. We’re very excited to start getting ready for next year’s Climb, which will be held on Saturday, June 18th, 2016. Mark your calendars!!!!

As part of our preparations, we’re opening up the application process for our 2016 Climb Out of the Darkness Local Grant program. Each year, Postpartum Progress’ Board of Directors elects to donate a percentage of funds raised by Climbs held in selected states to local, independent, 501c3 registered nonprofit organizations that provide direct services, such as support groups, or that lead community network development (building up systems of referral between OBs/pediatricians/PCPs or hospitals and reproductive psychiatry specialists). We believe it is important to support local organizations that are truly making a difference directly for moms in their communities.

In 2015, grants ranging in size from $400 to $3600 were made to the following organizations:

  1. New York Climbs – Postpartum Resource Center of New York
  2. Michigan Climbs – Moms Bloom
  3. Ontario Climbs – Life With A Baby
  4. British Columbia Climbs – Pacific Post Partum Support Society
  5. California Climbs – California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative
  6. Massachusetts Climbs – MotherWoman
  7. Virginia Climbs – Postpartum Support Virginia
  8. North Carolina Climbs – Postpartum Education & Support

New for 2016!

For our 2016 cycle, we are excited to launch a new grant application process. All grant applications must be submitted via our online application. Postpartum Progress will also require all grant applicants to answer a series of questions to help us better ensure that the Climb grants we make each year meet the mission and priorities of our organization. Measures have also been put in place to ensure that, with the help of our awardees, we are better able to track the outcomes and impact of the grants we make.

To review the 2016 Request for Funding (RFP) guidelines and apply for a grant, please click here: 2016 Grant Program  Applications must be submitted by October 31, 2015. Please be sure your organization meets the eligibility requirements prior to submitting an application. 

If you have any questions about the COTD Local Grants Program or would like to discuss your program’s eligibility, please email Amanda Hope, Event Manager at

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Is Your Medication Working for You? Here’s A New App To Help You Find Out

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postpartum depression appThere’s probably nothing Postpartum Progress hears about more from moms than their concerns about taking medication as a treatment for postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and all other perinatal mental illnesses. Is it safe? Why do I need an antidepressant? What about the side effects? How long will it take to feel better? Why can’t I just be happy on my own? What if I don’t feel better? What is the right dosage? How do I know this is the right antidepressant for me?

I know. I GET IT. SO MUCH. When I was first diagnosed with postpartum OCD, I spent 8 months seeing a psychiatrist who put me on medication after medication after medication and I wasn’t getting much better. I had no idea anymore whether how I was feeling was because of my illness, my meds or both. All I knew was that I was horribly ill and miserable and I was completely confused as to why. I later switched to a different psychiatrist who specialized in maternal mental health and she helped me find the right treatment plan in pretty short order. Hooray for effective treatment!!!

Here’s the thing: For some moms, medication is the right answer. Not the lazy answer. Not the weak answer. The right answer for a mom who is in crisis and needs to get stable so that she can get back to functioning on a daily basis. What matters most is your health and your ability to be a mother in a way that is sometimes fulfilling and sometimes really stressful, but not permanently miserable.

At Postpartum Progress, we’re interested in harnessing the power of digital technology and the power of data from all the moms in our large community to find more and better ways to help you find out what’s wrong, help you get the best information, and help you get the best and most effective help for YOU as quickly as possible. That’s why we’re excited to launch a new partnership today with a company called Iodine to test out their new app called Start postpartum depression app. (Iodine is a technology company founded by Thomas Goetz, the former executive editor of Wired magazine, and Matt Mohebi, a former Google software engineer.)

iodine postpartum progress

Start is an iPhone app for people who have just started with an antidepressant. It works with you to track how you are feeling on your medication and what kinds of side effects you are having. It provides you information about the experience thousands of others have had — for instance, did most people who took a certain medication have the same side effect you’re having and how long did it take for that side effect to go away, if at all? And it helps you assess over a six-week period whether you are feeling better. If you aren’t, it prompts you to reach out to your doctor to discuss your treatment plan. The key is to help you find what works for you sooner, rather than later, so that you can get better. As Iodine explains it:

“The promise is not just better adherence (the medical term for taking the drug on schedule, as the doctor prescribed), it’s what we call Therapeutic Optimization. For the individual, this means getting to the best drug, faster … On a population level, it means learning which medications work best for which types of people, and improving how medicine assesses, prescribes for, and monitors patients. It’s what we mean when we say our mission is to turn experience into better medicine.”

We know a lot of things to be true:

1) Many moms with postpartum depression and anxiety are afraid of taking medication. Often they’ll quit taking it after a day or two because they are so anxious about what it might do to them or how it will make them feel. Did you know 30% of people who are prescribed an antidepressant quit taking it in the first month? What if you knew that a side effect was only temporary? What if you had some information that helped allay your fears, so that you don’t quit a treatment before it has had time to work?

2) Some women receive prescriptions for antidepressants without accurate follow up planned between doctor and mom. According to Iodine, “Only a third of patients treated for depression have a follow-up with their doctor in the next 3 months.” Moms don’t always get the opportunity to revisit how things are going with their doc, and at Postpartum Progress we end up hearing from women who’ve been on a medication for months, and sometimes even years, on end but are still struggling mightily and convinced they’re never going to get better. They give up believing that they’ll recover. That’s not okay with us. We want moms to feel that they are empowered to communicate with their doctors.

3) Sometimes you might actually be getting better and not realize it. You’re tired. You’re stress. You’re worried. And depression after all makes it hard to have hope and see when things might be better than you think you are.

Start was designed to help address these issues. It starts by getting to know you and the side effects and symptoms you are most worried about, as well as what your goals are. Then every couple of days the app checks in on you and how you are doing. Every two weeks you’ll get a progress report and at six weeks — the point at which an effective antidepressant should be working — you’ll get an assessment. If the assessment indicates the medication might not be particularly effective for you, Start will suggest options for you to discuss with your doctor. Start doesn’t provide medical advice or diagnoses — it simply helps you have more information.

Postpartum Progress believes in empowering moms, and we want you to have better information too. To use Start or learn more, visit Once you download and launch the app, BE SURE to enter the referral code PPP2015. 

Oh, and for you Android users, I know, I know. I’m an Android owner myself (Samsung Galaxy) so believe you me I want them to make Start available on Android just as much as you do. They’re working on it. Patience, my friends. 😉

Here’s Iodine’s announcement from this morning as well.

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Why No One Invests in Maternal Mental Health

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postpartum depression fundingYesterday I shared some reasons why moms can’t get help for postpartum depression or anxiety. Or depression or anxiety during pregnancy. Or postpartum psychosis or bipolar disorder. And trust me, so many can’t. Today I want to talk about maternal mental health, and why there’s so little investment in the most common complication of childbirth.

The other day I did some quick back of the napkin research. Bear with me, because I really want you to follow along.

There are 1,000 new cases of Cystic fibrosis each year in the US. In 2013 the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s revenue was $405 million.

There are 10,000 new cases of multiple sclerosis each year (in men and women) in the US. In 2013 the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s revenue was $123 million.

There are 16,000 new cases of lupus each year (in men and women) in the US. In 2013, the Lupus Foundation’s revenue was $17 million.

There are 50,000 new cases of HIV infection each year (in men and women) in the US. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s revenue in 2014 was $879 million.

There are 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s disease diagnosed each year (in men and women) in the US. In 2013 the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation’s revenue was $10 million.

There are 150,000 new cases of epilepsy each year (in men and women) in the US. In 2013 the Epilepsy Foundation’s revenue was $15 million.

There are 221,000 new cases of lung cancer each year (in men and women) in the US. In 2014 the American Lung Association’s revenue was $55 million.

There are 230,000 new cases of breast cancer each year in the US. In 2013, the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s revenue was $325 million.

There are 475,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease each year (in men and women) in the US. In 2013-14, the Alzheimer’s Foundation’s revenue was $135 million.

There are at minimum 500,000 new cases of postpartum depression each year in the US among women alone. This number only takes into account women who experience live births, and not those who suffer depression after a perinatal loss such as miscarriage. This is an illness which, when untreated, can have a lifetime of consequences for exposed children. And yet there is not a single nonprofit organization dedicated to maternal mental health disorders in America that I’m aware of, including my own, that has annual revenues as high as $500,000. That’s less than a dollar a mom.

Is that a failing of ours? Partially. I’m very new to the whole nonprofit thing, and I’m learning every day. I know I need to tell the maternal mental health story better. I know Postpartum Progress is making an impact, and we’re working to make sure we have the data to show it. I know we need to get in front of more people, and to recruit the involvement of every person who has ever been affected by these illnesses. We need women, business leaders and policy makers to understand that the lack of awareness and treatment for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders is a HUGE public health issue for women and families. It’s leading to a lot of downstream health problems that could be prevented in the first place.

But I also think the lack of investment is an implied endorsement of the stigma of maternal mental illness. I think companies and other potential funders shy away from PPD. I don’t think people want to accept that new moms might be miserably unhappy, scared and sick, despite the fact that 1 in 7 of us are (or 1 in 4 in high poverty areas). I was once told that most of the companies in the ad network this website was part of didn’t want their ads to appear here because they didn’t want to touch PPD “with a ten-foot pole.” It felt like being punched in the gut … I’m one of the “untouchables” they’re so afraid of. What’s interesting about this is that awareness and treatment for PPD can be a very good story. A great story, in fact. We aren’t searching for a cure. We know how to fix it. We know how to talk to women in a way that makes sense to them and makes it safer to reach out for help. We know what works and what doesn’t. Trained providers know how to treat them. This is something you don’t have to hope you can accomplish if someone could just make that eureka discovery. You CAN accomplish it. Now. Today.

And it’s not just the stigma, which is wrong and ridiculous in this day and age, but I also think people look at all those other illnesses I listed above and think, “But no one dies from PPD, so …” That’s simply not true. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the first year postpartum. And who knows how many attempts there are. We’re just lucky, if you could call it that, that women happen to be three times more likely to make an unsuccessful attempt at suicide than men.

The illnesses and diseases I listed above are serious, and the people who have them need and deserve every cent of the millions of dollars being spent to raise awareness, provide services and support and conduct research. No question. But when you look at the incidence of these illnesses and then you look at the number of new cases of PPD each year and you know how few get treated and you know how much this affects families, don’t you begin to wonder why the inequity?

I know I do.


Data Sources:


Photo credit: ©marine0014/Fotolia

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Why Moms Can’t Get Help for Postpartum Depression & Anxiety

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postpartum depression factsRecently on Twitter I said that a lot of moms can’t get help for postpartum depression and anxiety.  Someone I don’t know chimed in and kept telling me I was completely wrong. She insisted that because of the Affordable Care Act and Mental Health Parity  everyone can get help now. She is not correct on this issue, I assure you. Hundreds of thousands of moms are not getting the professional help they need.

It comes from a place of privilege to be able to say that everyone can get help these days. I used to think that, too. My attitude was, “If you have symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety, reach out for help. Call your doctor. Get an appointment with a therapist. I did! You can too!”

And then I learned. I learned that some women who have health insurance can’t afford to pay the massive deductibles they’d need to pay out of pocket in order to get mental health care. Some women work the kind of schedules that don’t allow them to see someone for help during normal office hours. Some moms can’t find anyone within a 75-mile radius who is accepting new patients. Some women don’t have transportation or childcare. Some women make calls and find out the people who can actually treat them are so in demand that they don’t accept insurance any longer and if you want to see them you need to be able to pay $150 or $250 an hour out of pocket. Some actually find a person who accepts insurance but then can’t get an appointment until 3 months from now.

Let me make it perfectly clear some of the reasons why women aren’t getting the help they need for maternal mental health disorders:

  • 55% of psychiatrists in America do NOT accept private health insurance or Medicare, and 57% do not accept Medicaid, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
  • Almost 91 million adults live in areas where shortages of mental-health professionals make obtaining treatment difficult, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services, and 55% of the nation’s 3,100 counties have no practicing psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers. Let me repeat: 55% of all the counties in the United States have no practicing psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers.
  • Around 25% of people who have public insurance from one of the state exchanges say they cannot find a therapist or psychiatrist in network, according to NAMI.

One organization in Philadelphia, the Maternity Care Coalition, took a look at whether low-income women can get care and found that it took mothers as long as 22 weeks to receive the care they needed — for those of you who are like me and can’t count that’s five-and-a-half months, y’all — and that only 1 in 5 local agencies had any practitioners who had received specialized training in perinatal psychiatry.

If you imagine that, let’s say, only 50% of moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders in the US are getting help — and the truth is it’s less than that but for the sake of argument let’s just say half — that would mean that at least 300,000 American moms each year are struggling and will continue to for who knows how long. That’s 300,000 moms and 300,000 kids (at least, because how many of them have more than one child) being left to suffer the long-term sequences of untreated maternal mental illness. That’s around the same number of people living within the city limits of Boston.

What do we know about untreated perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and their impact on children? We know that untreated maternal depression can create impaired mother-infant bonding, poorer self-control, cognitive development problems, poorer school performance, increased aggression and higher rates of psychiatric illness and substance abuse in exposed children.

So, given all that, you’d think those in power would be falling all over themselves to invest in addressing this issue and making sure women can get help for postpartum depression, anxiety, psychosis and antenatal depression and anxiety, right? Of course they would. Because we know how to help women who are struggling, and when we do help them it helps their kids.

Except nope. There’s actually almost no investment at all. I’ll share more about that tomorrow.

Oh, and P.S. In case you think the access is much better in other countries, read this.

Photo credit: ©B. Wylezich/Fotolia

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