HEALTHY MIND MATTERS
Moms Petition Lawmakers For Funding For Maternal Mental Health Awareness
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The stories from new moms, before a legislative committee Tuesday morning, are heartbreaking.
“The mental and emotional suffering was so intense, so painful, I wanted it to end, of course I didn’t want to end my life, and I had four beautiful children, but I couldn’t stand the suffering,” said Jessica Freeman Huish.
Mental health challenges that many new mothers face are becoming easier to talk about in Utah, but advocates say many women aren’t sure where to turn for help.
They are asking state lawmakers to help fund programs to help women find treatment, by recounting the anguish and suffering they have experienced with complications in their mental health after childbirth.
“I don’t want any other mother to have to suffer not knowing that what they are suffering from is a serious, but treatable mental health illness,” said Lindsay Aerts.
Now, advocates are asking lawmakers for $250,000 over the next three years, to build better referral networks with local health departments and also online “telehealth” options, especially for moms in rural Utah.
“Recognizing that we are starting to raise awareness about this to let moms and families know that they are not alone, they don’t have to be silent or feel alone and fix the gaps in care to support families in our state,” said Erin Jemison, YWCA of Utah.
The family of Emily Dyches started the Emily Effect campaign, in her memory, following her death three years ago. She suffered from severe anxiety, after giving birth. Many of the women who testified Tuesday say they were inspired by “The Emily Effect” to seek help during their own.
“We all think we are alone and are ashamed we want to hurt our children or ourselves, and the Emily Effect teaches us that we are not alone and it is imperative to get help, immediately,” said Heather Dopp, a new mom.
“Emily’s family has created a lasting legacy that through her stories and website have put a face, a real face to the illness of pregnancy and postpartum anxiety and depression, and for that I am so grateful,” said Amy-Rose White, a licensed social worker who has focused on maternal mental health efforts in the state.
Now women’s advocates hope state lawmakers will help the maternal mental health effort to reach even more mothers. A decision on if the funding is granted is expected by the end of the legislative session.
RELATED LINK: theemilyeffect.org
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