Katherine Stone

is the creator of this blog, and the founder and executive director of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the 15 most influential patient advocates to follow. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

PPD in the News: What to Do When Tragedy Strikes

PPD in the News: What to Do When Tragedy Strikes -postpartumprogress.com

If you ever have the radio on, a television on in your vicinity, or follow social media at any point during any given day, you will hear stories of tragedy. Sadly, sometimes those stories involve moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

We know stories such as those are painful to hear and can make you fearful and anxious and also have the potential to trigger your symptoms. So here’s a guide for what to do and how to care for yourself when you hear upsetting news.

Self-Care Steps to Take When Tragedy Strikes

First and foremost, please to try remember that another person’s story is NOT your story. We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes in another person’s life, and neither does the media.

You don’t know what a person’s risk factors are, what type of symptoms she has or had and how severe they were; whether she sought professional help and received a proper diagnosis; whether she was being treated at all or effectively; what her life circumstances are and what stressors she may have been dealing with; and what kind of support she may have had around her. Each of us is a very unique individual and this is why it’s just never helpful or healthy to compare. The fact that a mom in the news has an illness that is the same as yours or similar to yours has little bearing on you and what is happening with you. Her story is NOT your story.

Second, try to consider the data. Numbers don’t lie. The vast, VAST, SUPERVAST majority of moms with perinatal mood or anxiety disorders never end up in the news. There’s a reason for that: It’s rare for a tragedy to happen. We still talk about them because, when they do happen, it’s an important reminder that maternal mental health awareness is important and providing the best help to moms who need it is important.

Third, try to remove yourself from news that might be upsetting to you or affect your health. You can turn off the TV or radio, walk away from the computer or smartphone, and instead do something nice for yourself. Focus on people or things you enjoy or that help you feel centered. Sometimes I light a candle. Sometimes I take a hot shower. Sometimes I play a favorite CD. These are little things that tend to help me calm down when I feel myself drifting toward anxiety or becoming obsessed over bad things that could happen but very likely never will.

And finally, if national tragedies or upsetting stories related to moms are really triggering you to the point that you have a worsening of your own symptoms and all the self-care in the world isn’t helping, call your therapist, social worker, psychiatrist, or whoever the person is who is already helping you with your perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. It’s more than okay to reach back out for help and say that you are concerned and need some support during this time. If you don’t have someone you can reach out to, try the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline.

Hayden Panettiere, Famous Women & Postpartum Depression

My Twitter feed is going amileaminute right now with people tweeting about the fact that mother Hayden Panettiere, who also happens to be a Hollywood actress, has entered treatment for postpartum depression. So many of you are sending me Facebook messages with links to EOnline and ET and People and the rest that my phone is pinging nonstop.

I have three reactions to this:

  • Please heavens above, universe and all powers that be let the purported “postpartum depression treatment center” she’s in be one of the amazing organizations or specialists that truly specializes in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Because they’re amazing, they know what they’re doing, and they can make a huge difference in her life. And good help is EVERYTHING.
  • Hayden Panettiere is just a person. That’s it. She’s a person who has an illness that can be serious and devastating without help, that anyone can get no matter who they are or where they live or what color they are or what kind of work they do. And right now she deserves to be just a person who has gone to do something important to take care of herself. Like so many of you in the Postpartum Progress community are doing and have done. And none of us had the press following us wanting to know exactly what we were doing and what type of treatment it was and when we’d be done. It’s so difficult to reach out for help and admit to others when you are struggling. You feel like the whole world will judge you and think that you “can’t handle” being a mom. Like you’re a failure. Except you aren’t, of course, but that’s how it feels and no one can convince you otherwise. And to be in that vulnerable position and end up with your bizness on TMZ?  That would suck. Big time. It takes a lot of courage to do what you need to do for yourself and your family knowing that lots of idiots who know nothing about maternal mental health will weigh in on your situation. I’m at least minimally comforted by the assumption that she’s been in the public eye long enough that she knows NEVER to read the comments.
  • As much courage as Hayden Panettiere has shown — and we surely congratulate her for it — you show it too. Every day. All of you. And every single one of you has an important story. And every single one of you has an experience that matters to us, whether it’s PPD, postpartum anxiety/OCD, postpartum bipolar disorder, postpartum PTSD, post-adoption depression, postpartum psychosis, or depression and anxiety during pregnancy. You single Warrior Moms show courage. You military Warrior Moms show courage. You Warrior Moms with babies in the NICU show courage. Those of you who have no idea how to pay for a single cent of your treatment show courage. Those of you who come from cultures that don’t believe PPD exists show courage. You, and many more, are the brave faces of postpartum depression. So while I know that the media loves to jump on the PPD bandwagon whenever a celeb is struggling, I also know they tend to disappear just as quickly when the story dies down. And yet all of you will still be struggling, and wishing there were more services, and wishing you didn’t have to wait months for an appointment, and wishing you had family members or friends who understood, and wishing you had insurance that covered more care, and wishing you really felt safe telling someone what’s going on inside your head, and wishing wishing wishing for more and better for all moms struggling with maternal mental illness. And Postpartum Progress will continue to be here and continue to work our collective asses off for all of you. We love you.

So, go Hayden. The Warrior Moms are behind you. And go YOU. Because you can do this. You can get the help you need and deserve. Be patient with yourself as you go through this difficult time, and know there are women here who have gone before you and know what it’s like and are dedicated to reaching down to pull our sisters up out of the darkness.

Announcing the Warrior Mom Ambassador Program

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!

Climb Out of the Darkness Local Grant Applications Now Open!

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