Local mental health groups partner to help new moms

A new peer support service is being offered to women experiencing postpartum struggles with their mental health.

The Kelowna branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association has launched a partnership with Postpartum Disorder Awareness Project to offer peer support services to women experiencing postpartum struggles with their mental health.

“The lack of mental health support for new moms has been a gap in our community that we have wanted to address for a long time,” said Shelagh Turner, executive director of CMHA,

“Bringing PPDA’s expertise in postpartum mood disorders together with our experience in providing peer support services means that moms and families can have a place to come and learn about ways to support their mental wellness. This is fantastic news for our community.”

Most people assume that pregnancy and postpartum (after birth) should be the happiest, most joyful times in our lives.

The reality is that a variety of mental health challenges can emerge or even worsen during pregnancy and postpartum.

Mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis can all occur and last much beyond the first year if not properly addressed.

The good news is that early recognition, treatment and support can have an enormous impact on women, men, and their families.

For Tascheleia Marangoni, founder of PPDA, the cause is personal. “After the birth of my first child, I developed postpartum depression and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder.

“At the time I thought I was going crazy. I remember one day looking down at my hands and realizing that they were covered in a million little tiny cuts from washing them constantly. Finally, with help, treatment and support I was able to recover, but I knew the next step in my journey had to be reaching out to others.”

PPDA has made a significant difference for so many women, added Marangoni. “We are thrilled to be expanding our reach in the Okanagan through this partnership with CMHA.”

Marangoni recently received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal for her advocacy work through founding PPDA.ca.

In a PPDA participant’s words: “Despite my best efforts to prepare for motherhood, I was completely overwhelmed by my baby’s needs and the difficulty of the postpartum period. Despite having dealt with mental illness in the past, I was reluctant to admit that I might have postpartum depression. I have found the support group to be welcoming, non-judgmental, and caring. Finally there was a place to freely share my real feelings and struggles.”

The drop-in group will be meeting 1 to 3 p.m. Friday afternoons at the CMHA office (corner of Pandosy and Sutherland) starting Jan. 18. The format includes guest speakers and opportunity for moms to connect and support each other in a guided format.

For more information about the group, email PPDA at okanagan@ppda.ca.or call CMHA at 250-861-3644.

The CMHA is a charity that promotes the mental health of all through community-based programs and services, public education, advocacy and research. It is part of a network of more than 10,000 CMHA volunteers and staff in over 135 communities across Canada.

 

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