What Moms Would Ask Presidential Candidates About Maternal Mental Health

With the Iowa Caucuses officially kicking off the election process today, many moms are thinking about what a new President will mean for maternal mental health care in this country. We know that mental health care needs improvement across the board for all people and we support any improvement. In fact, most states only maintained or cut mental health funding in 2015, with only 23 states increasing funds. Cutting funding doesn’t help people who need help.

We’re also concerned about moms. We’re thrilled to see the recommendation for pregnant and new moms to received depression screenings, but we know much more work waits ahead and we want to know how our potential future leaders will handle it. We do a good job of fighting the stigma of maternal mental illness, but there’s a lot more work to be done to help moms with postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. So we asked some hard questions of our candidates.

What Moms Would Ask Presidential Candidates About Maternal Mental Health

What Moms Would Ask Presidential Candidates About Maternal Mental Health -postpartumprogress.com

Proper mental health care (therapists, meds, psychiatrists) can often seem unattainable because of limited (or no) insurance coverage, high cost, and long wait periods. What do you plan to do to make mental health care attainable for all Americans? -Amber D.

Maternal mental health is a complex and multi-faceted issue that, because of its nature, affects such a wide section of America’s population. A huge part of the struggle is how sadly behind the US is when it comes to basics like paid parental leave. How do you plan to improve our standing when it comes to this? -Amber D.

Doctors in Obstetrics and Gynecology are usually the “first responders” for mothers suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. What will you do to ensure that these doctors are equipped with the knowledge and tools to truly help these women? -Jessica L.

I’ve heard some candidates talking about cutting social security benefits.This is troubling since many people with mental illness depend on social security in order to receive proper treatment. What is your position on this? -Candice B.

Now that the US Preventive Task Force has recommended PPD screening, will you support it being reimbursed for healthcare providers who give the screenings? -Katherine S.

Many moms in underserved communities slip through the cracks due to lack of awareness, cultural bias against mental illness, and other issues. Would you support endeavors to create awareness campaigns and fund mental health care facilitators in these areas? -Jenna H.

Only 23 states increased funding for mental health in 2015. Would you offer incentives to states to create new programs and policies to help those dealing with mental illness? -Jenna H.


We know there are a lot of other issues presented to our candidates. We also acknowledge that citizens votes are based on more than one issue. We feel, however, that in order to serve our families, asking these questions is important. We want our next President to know that mothers and their mental health matter.

What do you want to ask the Presidential candidates about maternal mental health in this country?

Inspired by a great post at The Mighty: 18 Mental Health Questions We Want to Ask the Presidential Candidates.

All Mothers Deserve Our Support

All Mothers Deserve Our Support -postpartumprogress.com

Tyra Banks welcomed her first child, a son, into the world last week. She announced his birth initially via her Instagram; simply a pictures of a newborn hat and a statement saying that the little miracle baby resembles both of his parents. She, then, mentioned the “angel” of a woman who carried this beloved child for the couple.

By the time the story was picked up by different news affiliates on Facebook, people were hissing. Rash judgement clogged the internet. How dare Tyra be so selfish and so frivolous with her money to chose to use a surrogate instead of just adopting a perfectly good baby that needed a loving home. People, other women and mothers even, discounted her ability to call herself a real mother.

There seems to be some sort of disconnect and confusion here that seems to need clearing up.

What does a mother look like?

Imagine your life like a flow chart; the top is the question, “Am I a Mother?” and at the bottom are the words “Yes” and “No”.

In the middle are questions that draw arrows to the two outcomes.

Are you a woman?
Are you a person who used to be a man but now identifies as a woman?
Are you a person who used to be a woman but now identifies as a man?
Are you a person who used to identify yourself with one gender but now feels it is fluid?

If you select yes to any of those questions:

Did you carry and give birth to a child?
Did you adopt your child?
Did you donate your eggs to be carried inside of another woman and then receive your child when they were born?
Did you purchase eggs to be carried inside of another woman and then receive your child when they were born?


Tyra Banks is a mother. She worked hard to become a mother. She endured years of infertility and Lord knows what that can do to a woman’s soul.

I’m sure at some point on her fertility journey Tyra doubted whether or not she was even supposed to be a mother. Whether she was being punished for something and that was why she was denied this one thing she was “supposed” to do as a woman.

Now, she has been given this gift. She has been given a child that, though she may not have been able to carry in her womb, is her own flesh and blood. Being biologically related to your child is not a requisite for being a mother and surely Tyra, like other mothers, think about the options of adopting versus surrogacy. However, to be frank, it’s none of your damn business.

If I see a woman walking down the street with her children, I am not going to pass judgement on how I think those children came to be.

A mother looks like a woman with a child.

Every woman is entitled to be a mother—some chose not to and that is fine—but it is imprinted in us biologically to extend our genetic line throughout time.

When Jimmy Fallon used a surrogate for both of his daughters, I don’t recall such a backlash of judgement on his part. He was open with his story; he explained how he and his wife had suffered through five years of infertility before deciding to turn to other avenues. No one called him a cosmetic, vain parent. No one chastised his ability to call himself a true father.

People, and more importantly women and other mothers, need to form a protective circle around these dear souls who have had such a wretched time with something that comes so easily to most of us. Instead of extending pointed fingers of accusation, we should be extending hands and arms of encouragement.

“We see what pain you have gone through, warrior. We see what you have endured. Claim your prize the best way you can. Get your baby.”

Most of us become mothers, mentally and emotionally, as soon as we decide we want a child. For some, perhaps most, the turnaround time is quick. However, for those who suffer with infertility are forced to walk a much longer journey. They are mothers with no babies and they need just as much support and love as any other mother we elevate.

#meditateonthis Success Shows Moms with PPD Will Fight the Good Fight

#meditateonthis We reached over 2 million people with stigma-fighting, truth-telling tweets about postpartum depression, medication, and treatment -postpartumprogress.com

Last night at 6:00 PM, we put out a call to our Warrior Moms and followers. We planned to take to Twitter to discuss the dismissive, stigmatizing, misinformed comments on postpartum depression by New York Times best-selling author Marianne Williamson.

Within minutes, hundreds of moms took to Twitter to share truthful information, statistics, hope, help, and their stories with the hashtag #meditateonthis. By 8:30 we were trending on Twitter.

#meditateonthis was trending by 8:30 PM EST -postpartumprogress.com

For those of us working at Postpartum Progress, last night was a whirlwind of awe. We watched our Warrior Mom Army do what they do. They stood tall and strong and told their truths for the Internet to see. They talked about their medications. They talked about what they did to avoid medication. They told how they used meditation, prayer, yoga, and nutrition to supplement their medication. They shared how their lives were changed by therapy. They admitted to the demons in their head, their scariest times, their hospitalizations. All to destigmatize postpartum mood and anxiety disorders.

To say, together, Postpartum Depression IS Real. But it hasn’t beaten me. And you, mama still fighting? You are not alone.

Here are some great tweets from the night.

The tweeting continued late into the night, and when I began writing this post at 9:30 this morning, the numbers spoke for themselves.

#meditateonthis reached 1,529,958 -postpartumprogress.com

Updated to add: These are the numbers as of 3:32 PM on 1/28/16.

We reached over 2 million people with stigma-fighting, truth-telling tweets about postpartum depression, medication, and treatment. -postpartumprogress.com

Yes, you’re reading that properly. 796 people on twitter sent out 6,526 tweets about postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. The messages were delivered to 27,764,462 timelines with a total reach of 2,005,250 people. With absolutely no notice ahead of time, Postpartum Progress’ Warrior Mom community and those that support maternal mental health banded together and reached over TWO million people with stigma-breaking, truth-telling tweets.

You did great work last night, Warrior Moms. Take some time to feel proud of yourselves for the work you did in promoting maternal mental health in a positive light. Thank those in your life who may not suffer from PPD or other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders but took time to retweet and share your messages last night.

Additionally, moms are writing their stories today. We’ll be updating the post with their personal blog responses:

Postpartum Depression Is Real #meditateonthis

Postpartum Depression Is Real #meditateonthis -postpartumprogress.com

In response to the news that screening for perinatal depression is now recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force, New York Times bestselling author Marianne Williamson took to Facebook to tell her followers that the recommendation is simply a ploy to sell more drugs. She wrote,

“Hormonal changes during and after pregnancy are NORMAL. Mood changes are NORMAL. Meditation helps. Prayer helps. Nutritional support helps. Love helps.” In comments with followers, she asserts: “The [postpartum depression] disease is not inside the woman; the disease is inside a system so based on greed that it does not honor parents’ need to remain with their children long enough after birth.”

The truth is that one in seven women will develop a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder like postpartum depression. Identifying and treating these women is crucial to public health because, according to the National Center on Children and Poverty and voluminous research, untreated postpartum depression and anxiety is, “ … a stronger risk factor for child behavior problems than smoking, binge drinking and emotional or physical domestic abuse.” Untreated PPD can lead to cognitive development problems, poor performance in school, increased aggression and future psychiatric illness and substance abuse. And yet, less than 35% of moms with these illnesses ever receive treatment.

Postpartum depression is real. Moderate to severe postpartum depression requires treatment. And while not all mothers will need medication to recover, they will need help. It may come in the form of psychotherapy, a visiting nurse, group therapy, hospitalization, or peer support, but without help moms will not fully recover. The new guidelines for screening might just mean that more women who need help will be identified and receive the support they deserve. This is why maternal child health advocates must respond when someone who has sold 3 million books and has a social media following in the hundreds of thousands spreads stigmatizing and uninformed information about maternal mental health.

Please join Avital Norman Nathman, editor of The Good Mother Myth, and Katherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress in a virtual pushback to these stigmatizing words. Use your voice — and perhaps even your own story — to explain why comments like Ms. Williamson’s are not only hurtful, but harmful as well. Use the hashtag #MeditateOnThis to speak out tonight (6pm Eastern, 3pm Western). @TheMamafesto, @postpartumprog