Half of all mums keep post-natal depression and other maternal mental health issues secret

It’s time to end the stigma surrounding maternal mental health [Photo: Getty]

Half of mums that experience post-natal depression and other maternal mental health issues keep it hidden from their friends and family, a worrying new survey has revealed.

The survey, by parenting site Netmums, also revealed that just 1 in 3 mums seek professional help to tackle mental health problems after giving birth.

According to the research, there are a number of reasons mums are keeping their mental health issues hidden. Just over a quarter (26%) did not seek help because they were scared of being judged, while just under a fifth (18%) were scared their baby could be taken away from them.

And when mums did seek professional support 1 in 10 mums said they felt rebuffed or ignored, resulting in many trying to “manage on their own.”

When it comes to the reasons women hid their mental health concerns from their partners and family, shame was a key factor with almost a third (30%) feeling scared of being judged and a quarter lacking the confidence to tell anyone.

Other reasons mums cited for not sharing their distress with their friends and family included feeling they were a terrible person, feeling they wouldn’t understand, feeling ashamed and embarrassed.

Half of all mums who experience post-natal depression keep it hidden from their friends and family [Photo: Getty]

Almost three quarters (73%) of mums said they experienced low mood following the birth of their child, while over half (56%) experienced low mood for longer than six weeks.

Half of the mums surveyed had experienced post-natal depression or post-natal anxiety, and 29% experienced post-traumatic stress disorder following a traumatic birth.

For just over a quarter (26%) of mums thought that their issues meant they found it difficult to bond with their baby.

An overwhelming 81% of mums say that, overall there is not enough awareness of how serious maternal mental health issues are.

Speaking about the results, Anne-Marie O’Leary, Netmums Editor in Chief, says: “It’s shocking, heartbreaking, alarming and just not good enough that so many mums feel that they have to suffer the serious effects of maternal mental health problems alone, without support from their family, friends or from healthcare professionals.”

“Netmums offers a platform for users to share the joys of being a parent, but also to support parents and each other through what can be some of the most challenging times of our lives.”

Following the survey results Netmums are now pledging to try and end the stigma surrounding maternal mental health.

Marking a decade of its Parent Support Service and supported by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, the parenting site are launching a new #MumsMatter Manifesto as part of Parent Support Week.

Not only will Netmums be launching a series of special Drop In Clinics manned by trained PSS staff every night, they will also be encouraging new mums to use the #MumsMatter hashtag to share their moments of self-care in the lead up to Mother’s Day.

Half of all mums have experienced post-natal depression [Photo: Getty]

Commenting on the collaboration, Dr Alain Gregoire from the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, said: “It is tragic that so few mums feel able to seek professional help to tackle their mental health problems.

“Women and their families need this to change urgently. Those mums who do speak out must have access to the right care and support whenever and wherever they need it. It is sadly still a postcode lottery and that means women and families continue to suffer needlessly.

“There is clearly a huge job to do to end the stigma around maternal mental health, to empower mums to seek support and uncover the tools they need to look after themselves, as well as their babies,” Anne-Marie continues.

“This is why we are hosting a dedicated Parent Support Service Week and have prioritised the launch of the Netmums #MumsMatter Manifesto.”

“We hope this will help to end stigma around maternal mental health and, critically, inspire mums to prioritise their well-being so they no longer suffer alone.”

For more information about the #MumsMatter Manifesto visit Netmums

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