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Mothers are not OKAY: Maternal Mental Health and COVID-19


A note to mothers: What you have IS REAL, what you FEEL IS REAL. If you are wondering if your feelings will just pass or if it is just temporary, please still seek support to discuss your struggles. We are not supposed to ‘struggle through motherhood’ at ANY POINT. Whether you have a mental health diagnosis or not, it is important to examine how much your struggles are impacting your day to day life.


Studies are showing that COVID-19 has INCREASED maternal mental health struggles. “Stay at home” orders have exacerbated the difficulties of access to social networks and supports for new mothers and families. Anxiety has increased in the postpartum period due to the worries that COVID-19 bring, along with lack of social support.


A rapid evidence review of COVID-19's impact on maternal mental health conducted by the mental health alliance found (https://maternalmentalhealthalliance.org/mmhpandemic/):

  • The pandemic has posed mental health challenges for women during pregnancy and early motherhood

  • The impact has been unequal

  • Perinatal mental health services had worrying gaps even before the crisis

  • Informal support has been detrimentally impacted

  • Changes to labor and birth because of the pandemic have increased stress and anxiety

  • Concern for infants and babies has increased stress and anxiety

  • There have been missed opportunities for understanding / fully responding to what being classed as vulnerable really means in the perinatal period

  • Whilst still awaiting data, significant concerns exist for women with pre-existing mental health conditions

  • Despite the increased need, services supporting women and families were impacted detrimentally

  • The workforce supporting women and families in the perinatal period is facing its own well-being challenges and needs support

  • Increased demand for voluntary and community services, who themselves have been impacted

  • Virtual contact massively increased with mixed potential consequences and a need for evaluation


Pre-COVID-19, one in seven women experience depression and anxiety (although this is the reported amount, the number is likely to be much higher for those who do not seek support). Depression and anxiety are associated with increased risk of preterm delivery, impact on mother-infant bonding and delays in emotional and cognitive development of the infant.


Most perinatal mental illnesses are treatable!

  • Mild (most people fall in this category):

  • Treatment can include:

  • Psycho-social strategies (self-care strategies, peer supports, postpartum supports, lactation supports)

  • Psycho-education (symptoms education)

  • Psychological treatments (ie, CBT)

  • Interpersonal therapy (grief, interpersonal disputes, role transitions, interpersonal deficits).


  • Moderate (a smaller group of people fall into this category versus mild’):

  • Treatment can include:

  • Psycho-social strategies (self-care strategies, peer supports, postpartum supports, lactation supports)

  • Psycho-education (symptoms education)

  • Psychological treatments (ie, CBT)

  • Interpersonal therapy (grief, interpersonal disputes, role transitions, interpersonal deficits).


  • Severe (smallest category of people):

  • Treatment can include:

  • Biological changes are necessary (medications)

  • Psycho-social strategies (self-care strategies, peer supports, postpartum supports, lactation supports)

  • Psycho-education (symptoms education)

  • Psychological treatments (ie, CBT)

  • Interpersonal therapy (grief, interpersonal disputes, role transitions, interpersonal deficits).


No matter what the situation, follow up and routine monitoring through pregnancy and postpartum is necessary.


If you are a mother or family member who is struggling, please email Family Foundations Therapy at support@familyfoundationstherapy.com to discuss supports available.


If you are a referring party, please connect with Family Foundations Therapy to establish a partnership to help mothers find the support they need.



Janelle Daku, Women's Health & Pediatric Occupational Therapist

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