We know from years of scientific research and lay observation that our pregnant, postpartum, and postadoption families need help. It’s no longer necessary to conduct a needs assessment in your community to determine this. What we don’t know is the availability of appropriate information, education, support, and resources in each community.
The United Nations declared 1994 to be the International Year of the Family, while the World Health Organization made it the Year of the Midwife. To do my part in strengthening the link between childbearing and the future of our families, I developed a simple quiz to determine if a community is sensitive to the mental health needs of its mothers. See how your community does!
Pregnancy or Preadoption
- Do midwives and obstetricians assess all of their patients for psychosocial factors during pregnancy? If they do, what happens next?
- Are pregnant women informed about mental health-related issues? If so, what happens next?
- Are pregnant women who are at risk for mood and anxiety disorders referred to mental health professionals with postpartum training? If so, who pays for them?
- Are midwives and obstetricians familiar with family support agencies and organizations and their services? If so, do they make referrals?
- Are there free self-help support groups for pregnant and postpartum families? If not, is anyone going to start one?
- Are childbirth educators informing families about the need for emotional and physical support after birth? If so, can the families afford these services?
After the Baby Arrives
- Are hospitals and clinics distributing literature about maternal mental health and adjustment issues? Is there a local referral phone number for new parents to call?
- Do family support agencies offer services for postpartum families? If so, do they include phone and group support for mental health issues?
- Do pediatricians and family physicians assess psychosocial and support needs for the first year postpartum? If so, what happens next?
- Are new families encouraged to seek support for any and all mental health issues? If so, congratulations, you live in a beautiful community!