More Support 4 Moms
According to Mental Health America, “Peer support is an evidence-based approach based on the concept that an individual who has experienced a mental health condition can contribute to the well-being of others who have the same condition. Peer support specialists may lead support and skills-building groups, help individuals navigate the healthcare system and provide counseling and other services. Peer support group participation is associated with:
- Increased knowledge about mental health and service availability
- Increased use of mental health services
- Better outcomes for people with mental health conditions”
We know that peer support works specifically for women suffering from postpartum depression. Results from 9 trials involving 956 women found that both psychosocial (e.g. peer support, non-directive counseling) and psychological (e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy) interventions appear to be effective in reducing symptoms of postpartum depression.” In fact, peer support strategies using peer volunteers with a group of mothers experiencing postpartum depression has been associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms. (Dennis, 2003)
Peer support is needed, now, more than ever, thanks to cuts in mental health spending on such services as emergency hospital treatment, clinic services and crisis intervention programs. USA Today reported recently that states cut $1.8 billion in non-Medicaid mental health spending in 2010, and deeper cuts are expected in the next two years.
To that end, Postpartum Progress launched the first daily email support service for women with PPD in January 2011. Daily Hope is a low-cost way to provide encouragement from survivors, as well as from the nation’s top perinatal mental health specialists and authors of the leading books on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and parenting, all of whom have agreed to contribute. Our Daily Hope collaborators include, in addition to our board members and many others:
- Karen Kleiman, MSW, author of “This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression”
- Ann Dunnewold, PhD, author of “Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide” and “Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box”
- Pamela Weigartz, author of “The Pregnancy & Postpartum Anxiety Workbook”
- Janice Croze, co-founder of 5MinutesforMom.com and survivor of PPD
- Adrienne Griffen, founder of Postpartum Support Virginia
Daily Hope now has more than 400 subscribers, primarily from the US but also from Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Namibia and Israel, and more subscribers sign up every day. We know this project is already making an impact:
Testimonials From Moms
“Thank you so much for these messages. How wonderful to have that daily reminder that someone understands … and that someday I will be better!!! “ – K.M.
“Thanks for this Daily Hope. I needed that today … yesterday and the few days before were really awful. It is hard not to think that I am backsliding, but this helps keep it all in perspective.” – A.J.
“Your Daily Hope messages have been a tremendous blessing to my life at this time of uncertainty and worry. I wasn’t expecting much from them but each one has added value and strength to my day in ways that really add up.” – S.K.
The Daily Hope service is provided free to subscribers, so that women will have access regardless of their financial resources.
Additionally, we are researching the development of face-to-face support groups using video technology. PPD support groups are extremely difficult to sustain unless they are in highly populated areas or managed by highly motivated people. Most places in the US don’t even have support groups, yet there are women in these areas with PPD and related illnesses who could truly benefit from talking to women who’ve been through PPD, as well as women who are currently suffering as they are. We believe using internet video technology to connect women who need support, regardless of their geographical location or socio-economic status, is a good low-cost approach to providing peer support.
Finally, we have begun the process of amassing the largest library of stories from mothers who have experienced and recovered from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. We believe in the power of storytelling to help break the stigma barrier. As reported recently in a story by Pauline Chen, MD, in the New York Times, “Experts in the emerging field of narrative communication say that storytelling effectively counteracts the initial denial that can arise when a patient learns of a new diagnosis … In health care, storytelling may have its greatest impact on patients who distrust the medical system or who have difficulty understanding or acting on health information because they may find personal narratives easier to digest.”
 Psychosocial & psychological interventions for treating postpartum depression, C.L. Dennis, The Cochrane Collaboration, 2009