Whether you’re navigating infertility or deeper into your family planning journey, here’s what you need to know:
In America, people have struggled with their mental health more and more due to the pandemic. COVID-19 prompted everyone, from government officials to families, to ask questions like — how is everyone navigating the stress? What tools are available to support someone who is struggling with mental health?
Women trying to conceive or who are already mothers have been navigating mental health realities that predate the pandemic and have only become more evident since then.
Here are some noteworthy statistics, according to the Office on Women’s Health:
More than 1 in 5 women in the U.S. struggle with a mental health condition
More women than men struggle with depression and bipolar disorder
Mental health conditions impact women in different ways than men
Now, a new report by Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health adds context, data, and emphasis to how women who choose to be moms struggle with their mental health at every point in their journey and how they lack proper support and resources.
What was your state’s score on maternal mental health?
The Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health ranked every U.S. state based on three criteria — the number of providers and programs available in the state that specifically supported mental health, how women were screened for mental health struggles before, during, and after pregnancy, and insurance coverage for maternal mental health treatment.
The only state in the U.S. that scored above a “C+” was California, which earned a “B-.” Forty states (including states like New York City, Texas, Florida, and Oregon) received a “D” or “F.” The rest of the states fell between a “D+” and “C+.”
States’ services fell short for the millions of women who navigate infertility and need perinatal or postpartum care.
How to find support that meets you where you are
While the report is dire and illustrates how states need to change their approach to maternal mental health care, women who are struggling with anxiety, depression, grief, or traumatic experiences on their TTC journey have other resources they can turn to in the meantime.
RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, offers those struggling with infertility five support options they can access directly from their website. Those resources include support groups, a virtual community, or a directory full of mental health professionals.
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In 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funded the creation of the Maternal Mental Health Hotline (833-TLC-MAMA aka 833-852-6262), which offers resources and 24/7 guidance and support to women navigating motherhood.
Beyond the national level, local community epicenters (think your local library, maternal community organization, or hospital) often have support groups or mental health resources that are more immediately accessible. In case of emergencies or crises, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number is 988.
While it’s evident that the state of maternal mental health in the U.S. needs some major improvements, you are not alone, and support is available in some shape or form. For instance, finding communities with shared experiences, like Rescripted's, can help offer valuable resources and support even as you seek more professional counseling or guidance.
Vivian Nunez is a writer, content creator, and host of Happy To Be Here podcast. Her award-winning Instagram community has created pathways for speaking on traditionally taboo topics, like mental health and grief. You can find Vivian @vivnunez on Instagram/TikTok and her writing on both Medium and her blog, vivnunez.com.