Supporting moms and their mental health

“At least one in five moms experience a mental health disorder,” said Kallen Thornton, a licensed clinical social worker and Manager of Gender Responsive Services with the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health.

We talked with her, Kristy Jordan the Senior Director of Development and Communications of Signal Behavioral Health, and 9Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli on Facebook Live.

Thornton said that maternal mortality in Colorado is on the rise and it’s from behavioral health conditions such as suicide and accidental overdose, “Women of reproductive age actually make up the biggest population of those in our country with depression,” she explained.

“Moms often feel like they have to hold it all together and that can lead to taking care of herself less,” said Jordan. “By focusing on a mom’s mental health, you’re focusing on the wellbeing of the entire family.”

What mental health conditions affect moms more than others?

“There are really unique biological, developmental, historical, relational, social, and economic experiences that uniquely shape women’s lives and therefore uniquely shape women’s mental health,” said Thornton.

Some of the mental health conditions that affect moms include:

  • Perinatal or postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD)
  • Perinatal obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Perinatal post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Psychosis in rare cases
  • Substance use disorders

“There’s a lot of shame and stigma with using substances to cope and a lot of social pressure for a mom to not admit that she’s struggling,” added Thornton.

Tough as a Mother Campaign

Tough as a Mother is a statewide campaign connecting Colorado mothers with dependent children to substance use disorder treatment services in their communities.

“The campaign acknowledges the incredible pressures of motherhood. It’s hard to be a mom and hard to have a substance use disorder,” explained Jordan.

The goal is not to shame moms but to get them the help they need in a supportive way and highlight their ability to persevere, “There’s a lot of shame, guilt and fear that comes with having a mental health or substance use disorder,” Jordan added.

Click here for more on Tough as a Mother.

Additional resources

If you want to talk to someone for advice, contact Colorado Crisis Services by calling 1-844-493-8255 or texting “TALK” to 38255 for free, confidential, 24/7 support. 

9Health also offers free, anonymous, online mental health screenings for adults. Click here to be screened for anxiety and depression.

Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: Visit Co4kids.org or call 844-CO-4-Kids

National Domestic Violence Hotline: Visit Thehotline.org or text loveis to 22522

If you have a health question you can talk to a medical professional through our 9Health Neighbors Program by calling 303-698-4455, ext. 2005. Leave a message and a 9Health Medical Volunteer will call you back within 24 hours.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and all month we are working with the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health, to host Facebook Live segments and connect you to mental health experts. Watch live on Facebook every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00 a.m. in May and come ask your questions.

Find all the segments we did for Mental Health Awareness Month on our blog or in our 9Health Video Gallery under mental health.