Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

Join Your Sisters & Raise Your Voice for Maternal Mental Health

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We’re getting closer ladies! It’s almost time for our 3rd annual Climb Out of the Darkness®. We already have more than 150 teams in 44 states and 3 countries. More than 1,000 Climbers, many of them mothers just like you who know what it’s like to be in the deep darkness of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and more.

Please join us this June. We can only succeed if we work together to eliminate stigma and make sure all mothers get the information and support they need. It’s time to Climb Out!

Registration is free. You are not required to fundraise, but those of you who raise $100 or more by June 30th will receive our awesome official 2015 Climb Out tee. Here’s what it looks like:

climb tee 2015

You’re going to want to be wearing that t-shirt, I’m pretty sure. I know I’ll be wearing mine proudly!! (Note: those who have joined the Climb early and already raised $100 by May 15 will receive their shirt to wear at the Climb. Otherwise, your shirt will be sent in August.)

To find a Climb in your area and learn how to register, click here.

To get answers to frequently asked questions about the Climb, click here.

Can’t wait to Climb with you!

~ Katherine, CEO & Founder, Postpartum Progress

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Help Save Massachusetts Program Helping Moms with PPD

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I am twice blessed. Not only do I get to be on the board of directors of Postpartum Progress, Inc. and have the honor to work with Katherine, our other directors and an army of Warrior Mom volunteers to help educate and encourage moms suffering from postpartum depression, anxiety and other mood disorders to get the help they need, but I get to live in one of the few places in the world where a government has taken active steps to recognize the seriousness and treatability of these diseases: Massachusetts.

A great new program in Massachusetts started last year to promote the mental health of new mothers by building the capacity of providers serving pregnant and postpartum women to effectively prevent, identify and manage depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after birth. This program for mothers was actually the child of an earlier and very successful program called MCPAP, which was founded in 2005 to develop a similar capacity for primary care physicians to effectively diagnose and treat children with mental health concerns. MCPAP gives primary care doctors ready access to a team of regional experts (each with a child psychiatrist, a social worker, and a care coordinator) who are on call for telephone consultations.

Recognizing that there is a direct correlation between a mother’s mental health and the mental and physical health of her children, Massachusetts legislators had the wisdom to try to similarly treat mothers.  In just a small state like this where there were 72,000 births last year and when at least 1 in 7 mothers suffers from a pregnancy related mood disorders such as anxiety or depression, at least 10,000 children and families are at risk when their mothers don’t get the critical postpartum support they need.

MCPAP for Moms was launched in July 2014 is now a model on the national stage for ensuring healthy families. In many areas of my state, especially rural ones where I live, there is a glaring lack of health care providers who understand the diagnosis and treatment for mothers suffering from pregnancy related mood disorders. All obstetrical providers who come into contact with new mothers can now call a warmline and receive guidance from psychiatric experts as well as referrals in their community. In addition, the program provides capacity building training from another great advocate and leader, MotherWoman, for support groups and professional coalitions across the state to strengthen the skills of the medical community in each unique county of our state. Already, more than 400 mothers and their families have been directly impacted by this program.

Unfortunately, in the world of governments which are always looking at budget shortfalls, the MCPAP Program is presently not being funded at a level that would allow it to keep the Moms portion. Truly, we all understand that there are many, many worthy programs and not enough budget funds to go around, but in this case there is already in place a requirement for commercial insurers to cover the cost of serving their members. This revenue stream is expected to add $1.6M to the state operating fund, which will more than offset the $500,000 in funding required to keep MCPAP for moms alive and growing.

As we see play out in various crises all over the world, untreated mental health issues can have disastrous consequences. Massachusetts must continue to be, and I’m not exaggerating here, a world leader in providing mental health screening and treatment for our children and their mothers. If you live here in this great Commonwealth with me, please contact your state Senator and tell them this:

Our mothers deserve quality professional care to treat postpartum related mood disorders. 10,000 children’s live will be directly impacted if we fail to ensure the MCPAP for Moms project stays in place, so please make sure that MCPAP (Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project) funding is increased to $3.6 million on line item 5042-5000.

Alternatively, any mom can sign the online petition at Change.org asking for the program to be funded by clicking the link.

~ Deborah Rimmler

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Launching Our Newest Tool for Moms: The New Mom Checklist for Maternal Mental Health Help

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new mom checklist 150x150Just in time for Mother’s Day 2015, Postpartum Progress is thrilled to launch its newest tool for moms: The New Mom Checklist for Maternal Mental Health Help.

The checklist was created to facilitate helpful conversation between struggling mothers and the clinicians who can assist them. It allows moms to check off a wide variety of evidence-based symptoms and risk factors that may indicate the presence of perinatal mood or anxiety disorders. The tool has a fifth grade reading level, and was developed with feedback from clinical experts and a diverse group of more than 30 survivors of maternal mental illness.

The objectives of the checklist are five-fold:

  1. Empower mothers to help themselves.
  2. Serve as a tool to facilitate conversations that can be difficult for mothers to start with their doctors and other care providers.
  3. Reinforce the variety of recognized, evidence-based symptoms of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders to both mothers and clinicians.
  4. Reinforce the variety of recognized, evidence-based risk factors of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders to both mothers and clinicians.
  5. Help clinicians get a clearer picture of how to best assist their patients.

The tool also helps mothers share a more comprehensive picture of what they are going through, which can be important at a time when lack of sleep and difficulty concentrating can lead them to forget key things to share at an appointment.

Postpartum Progress will also be creating printed versions that are double-sided, with larger font, in tear-off pad form to share freely with advocacy organizations and clinicians for their use. These will be available for distribution in July 2015. A checklist for pregnant moms concerned they may have depression or anxiety during pregnancy is also on the way.

The New Mom Checklist for Maternal Mental Health Help can be downloaded for free here.

This project, and all the other advocacy, events and tools created by Postpartum Progress to help moms with maternal mental illnesses, is supported by the donations of people who donate to our annual event Climb Out of the Darkness®. As always, THANK YOU.

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BabyCenter Finds PPD Moms Don’t Seek Help Due To Guilt & Shame

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BABYCENTERBabyCenter®, the number one pregnancy and parenting digital resource, recently asked 1,400 moms about their experience with postpartum depression and found that 40% said they didn’t seek medical help for their illness. Their reasons for avoiding reaching out for help included feeling like they should or did have the strength to get over the feelings without a doctor’s help (30 percent), believing their symptoms weren’t serious enough (25 percent), or feeling too much embarrassment (24 percent) and guilt (23 percent).

 “This study revealed serious findings that need to be addressed,” says Linda Murray, BabyCenter Global Editor in Chief. “Depression is dangerous for women and their babies, and untreated depression can become worse and lead to other complications. Depression affects people from all walks of life, but new moms are particularly susceptible given the stress of becoming a parent, lack of sleep, and hormonal changes. We want moms to understand that seeking help for PPD isn’t something to be embarrassed or ashamed about; in fact, it’s one of the most important things they can do for the well-being of their babies.”

Postpartum Progress is thrilled that BabyCenter put its resources behind taking a deeper look at postpartum depression and how it affects women. It’s so important to understand the barriers that prevent moms from seeking treatment to get the help they need. It stands out to me that the results of the survey found in particular that women felt they should be able to get over PPD themselves or that their symptoms weren’t serious enough to need professional help — those are beliefs we can effectively change by raising awareness about this illness and how it can affect both mom and baby when untreated.

In response to the findings of their study and to lend support to the cause of maternal mental health, BabyCenter is now graciously allowing me to blog regularly on their site to shed additional light on PPD and remind new and expecting moms that there is no shame in feelings of anxiety or depression. If you are experiencing PPD, please know that getting treated as soon as possible is important. Please go check out my very first post on BabyCenter: Asking for Help for PPD: Failure or Fierceness?

“I can’t stress enough that PPD is treatable, but only if moms ask for help,” says psychologist Susan Bartell. “It can be hard, but moms don’t need to be afraid to seek support during this difficult time. And it’s important for moms to remember that help comes in many forms ranging from friends who simply fold your laundry to therapy.”

About BabyCenter

BabyCenter® is the voice of the 21st Century Mom® and modern motherhood. It’s the number one pregnancy and parenting digital destination worldwide, reaching more than 40 million moms monthly in 11 languages across 14 owned and operated properties from Australia to India to China. In the United States, 7 in 10 babies born last year were BabyCenter babies. BabyCenter is the world’s partner in parenting, providing moms everywhere with trusted advice from hundreds of experts around the globe, friendship with other moms like them, and support that’s remarkably right at every stage of their child’s development. BabyCenter is a member of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.

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