The COVID pandemic has upended many lives around the world. But according to recent reports, women, particularly mothers, have been bearing the brunt of not just the economic damage but also the increase in Unpaid Care Work and isolation, which, together with other factors, experts fear, has given rise to a worsening of post partum depression and anxiety.
In this video just released by our newest member association in Canada – the Mothers Matter Centre – the statistics speak for themselves: 72% of new mothers during the pandemic reported symptoms of anxiety whilst 41% experienced depression.
The Mothers Matter Centre equips mothers facing multiple barriers to become engaged citizens, confident parents, and prepare their children for success in school. The video is a compilation of conversations and testimonials exploring the different challenges mothers have faced due to the global crisis and the many ways they adapted and persevered. As the organisation says, ‘this is a celebration of the resilience and commitment of mothers to be there for their children’.
We applaud their efforts to give a voice to these very moving stories, highlighting an issue of major global concern, one that we at MMM have been taking very seriously for years, even before the pandemic: the issues of maternal postpartum depression and parental burnout. We have been vociferous about the need for promoting and protecting human relationships – something that begins with the bond between infants and their primary caregivers – usually the mothers. Giving a child the best start in life, therefore, starts with supporting maternal health and including maternal mental health as the foundation for a child’s emotional and cognitive development.
The good news is that the topic is receiving the attention it merits even if it took a Pandemic to bring it centre stage.
Rise Up PPD, a pan-European research network in PeriPartum Depression Disorder of which we are a member, launched a new COVID-19 taskforce to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in perinatal mental health. They highlight amongst other issues, the mental load suffered by mothers during lockdowns and point to the need for raising awareness of maternal health with policy makers and to ensure the availability of mental health services for all women.
Becoming a mother is a significant experience resulting in substantial mental, social and physical change. It is vital that we continue to work together, to ensure we never witness a repeat of the appalling scenarios where fathers were banned from attending the births of their children, leaving mothers isolated and alone at a very difficult and sensitive moment of life.
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