We Need to Talk About Postpartum Disorders

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[Editor’s Note: Today we are thrilled to have a guest post by Betsy Schwartz, Vice President of Public Education & Strategic Initiatives at the National Council for Behavioral Health.]

Mental Health First Aid USA + National Council for Behavioral Health + Postpartum Progress

In 2001, a tragic event in a suburb of Houston Texas shook the soul of the nation. A successful nurse, daughter, wife and mother did the unthinkable. In a state of postpartum psychosis, Andrea Yates systematically drowned each of her five innocent children. She emphatically believed that her action was the only way to prevent them from spending eternity in damnation. The State of Texas found her guilty and sentenced her to life in prison.

In 2006, the case was re-tried, at which time Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity. And rightfully so. International media attention focused on Yates’ trials offered a tragic opportunity to teach the world about postpartum illnesses.

During my tenure as CEO of Mental Health America of Greater Houston, we created a fund in memory of the Yates children dedicated to educating new moms and dads about the risks, signs and symptoms of postpartum disorders.

Now, fourteen years later, Mental Health First Aid USA has an opportunity to expand that national dialogue and education. Through a partnership between the National Council for Behavioral Health and Postpartum Progress, new moms can receive training to become Mental Health First Aid instructors, giving them the knowledge and skills they need to spread the word that postpartum illnesses are real, and when recognized, can be treated effectively.

Postpartum education will play an integral role in Mental Health First Aid’s mission of creating healthier communities, as research shows that the health of the mother determines the health of the infant. We look forward to this important collaboration and the work of Postpartum Progress. Together, we can work toward creating stronger, safer communities for all.

Together, We Can Work Toward Creating Stronger, Safer Communities for All. -Betsy Schwartz

-Betsy Schwartz, National Council for Behavioral Health

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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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Postpartum Progress Announces Mental Health First Aid Training

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Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 12.54.10 PMPostpartum Progress is thrilled to announce our newest program: the Mental Health First Aid Training Warrior Mom Scholarship!

Our Warrior Mom volunteers are at the heart of everything we do. We hear, time and time again, that after sharing stories about your personal experiences with PPD and related illnesses, women in your communities turn to you as sources of support. You are often faced with questions about diagnoses and treatments. You are asked to listen to the stories of new moms who are struggling, and to take on roles as mentors and friends. You are asked for help finding providers. For years, you’ve been telling us you’re concerned about knowing the best way to respond to those who need help.

Well, we’ve heard you!

We are so pleased to tell you that we’ve partnered with the National Council for Behavioral Health and will be providing scholarships for Mental Health First Aid Training to 100 Warrior Mom volunteers and Mental Health First Aid Instructor Certification to 5 Warrior Mom volunteers from across the United States.

The partnership will allow Postpartum Progress to provide scholarships for the National Council’s Mental Health First Aid Training that will lead to the total training of 400 maternal mental health peer supporters between now and the end of 2016. It also will form the foundation for future evidence-based trainings and peer-to-peer supporter education for Postpartum Progress volunteers. This is the first national effort to bring Mental Health First Aid training specifically to the peer support community of survivors of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders across the US.

What is Mental Health First Aid Training?

Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that can help individuals across the community to understand mental illnesses, support timely intervention and save lives. The program is an 8-hour class developed by the National Council for Behavioral Health to teach participants how to help someone who is experiencing an ongoing mental health problem or crisis. Participants will learn signs of addiction and mental illness, the impact of mental and substance abuse disorders, a 5-step action plan to assess a situation and help, and local resources they can provide to women who may need further assistance. Mental Health First Aid is a nationally recognized, evidence-based program.

I’m already looking for how I can participate. How can I apply?

Am I eligible to participate?

  • Scholarships are open PMAD survivors, advocates, and members of the Postpartum Progress community.
  • Participation in Climb Out of the Darkness® or the Warrior Mom™ Conference is not required but will factor into participant selection.
  • Though we love our international Warrior Moms (and we do!), we are only able to offer scholarships for trainings in the US for now.

Questions?  Email Susan at education@postpartumprogress.org


The National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s community mental health and addictions treatment organizations. Together with 2,300 member organizations, it serves more than eight million adults and children living with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. The organization is committed to ensuring all Americans have access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery and full participation in community life. The National Council, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health pioneered Mental Health First Aid in the U.S. and have trained 450,000 individuals to connect youth and adults in need to mental health and addictions care in their communities. To learn more about the National Council, visit www.TheNationalCouncil.org.

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Announcing the Warrior Mom™ Conference Schedule

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Warrior Mom ConferenceThere are only 37 days until Warrior Moms from around the world gather in Boston for the first ever patient-centered conference on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  And as we get closer to this groundbreaking event, we have some exciting news to share as we welcome Cotton Babies as our national conference sponsor!

For years we have urged the business community to recognize the significance of how perinatal mood and anxiety disorders deeply affect women and children. We have asked them to support our work, but it has fallen on deaf ears. This is why our gratitude to Cotton Babies knows no bounds. A corporation is recognizing how important maternal mental health is and by supporting our conference they are making a statement publicly that they stand by and support Warrior Moms. We can’t wait to work with them and we can’t wait for you to meet them at the Conference! Thank you Cotton Babies!

Cotton Babies Brandmark-Final

We’re also excited to release our conference schedule to the public this week – you can find our 2015 Speakers & Agenda on the Warrior Mom™ Conference Webpage.  We still have a few tricks up our sleeves and a few details to announce, so stay tuned and be sure you’re following all the latest Warrior Mom™ Conference news on our dedicated Facebook page!

Lastly, if you haven’t sent in your art, stories, and poems to the Warrior Mom Wall project, you still have until June 15th!  Find out all you need to know so you can be included in the final art project and have your work shared on the @postpartumprogress instagram account!

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