In the four years I’ve been doing this work, there’s one word I’ve heard uttered in response to the question “Why aren’t you in therapy/seeing a doctor/getting help?”
These moms, these mothers stranded in the darkness, so lost that many of them are sure suicide is the only way out, are stopped from getting help because they can’t AFFORD IT. They’re just above the line for assistance. Or their assistance ran out because they’re past 8weeks postpartum (which, by the way, is when most Medicaid for pregnant mothers runs out and ALSO when Postpartum manifests) Or the state they live in (I’m looking at YOU, South Carolina) classifies Postpartum Depression as an EXCLUSIONARY condition within the Department of Mental Health, cutting them off from assistance for therapy and other treatment options after Medicaid runs out.
It’s killing our mothers. Impairing their ability to recover. To function. To fully parent their children. To fully be themselves. It’s leaving them desperate and out in the cold without a warm hand to hold. It’s hurting our children’s chances at a successful life. Did you know that when you treat a postpartum mother successfully, her CHILDREN have a better chance at growing up and not developing issues with mental health? Weissman et al in 2006 treated 151 depressed mother/child pairs. Of the mothers treated, 33% of the children improved their behavior. Only 12% did not. This is not just a mom issue. This is a SOCIETAL issue. True mental health care starts with Moms. And we, as a society, are ignoring them.
It needs to stop.
In Karen Kleiman’s book, Therapy & The Postpartum Woman, there’s a bold yet tragic statement made not too far into the book in regards to finances and therapy: “There is no easy solution for this barrier to treatment.”
As women, we explain away why we can’t afford to spend money on our own wellness. We can’t afford to miss work. We have bills to pay. Our kids need this or that. The family needs this. I have to ask my husband first. The house.. the car… the …. this… that… STOP. Just stop.
YOU ARE WORTH IT.
And if you truly can’t afford the care, if you don’t have insurance, if the therapist doesn’t take insurance and the sliding scale doesn’t work with your realistic budget, if the therapist doesn’t have a sliding scale – I have a solution. But I am going to need a hell of a lot of help to make it become a reality. Postpartum women deserve a voice. They deserve to have it heard by a trained and knowledgeable professional so they can recover and live life with their children, their loved ones, and themselves to the fullest.
Will you help me?
I have a dream.
A non-profit which helps women pay therapy bills. Helps to alleviate medication costs. Possibly childcare so they CAN go to their appointments. For therapists and professionals to participate in this network, they would be required to maintain certification in regards to Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Guaranteed knowledgeable professionals and financial assistance? We can do this.
This is idea has been marinating for quite some time now. Not too long ago, I had a discussion with a dear friend of mine. She can’t go to therapy because of the cost. Because it costs to see the doctor. It costs to see the therapist. It costs for the case manager. She can’t afford it. Won’t go on meds because she can’t afford the return visit and would have to go off cold-turkey after just one month until she could afford to go again. She’s applied for assistance but someone is dragging their feet. She’s not postpartum but she’s stuck in limbo and struggling like hell just to stay afloat. It’s not right.
I can’t keep this idea to myself any longer. It’s time to set it free. To make it a reality.
Beyond the above idea, I don’t have a plan. I don’t know where to start. I need help. I need people knowledgeable about setting up non-profits. I need people knowledgeable about medical billing and how we would even begin to provide assistance. Fund-raising. Research. The whole nine yards. I need volunteers. I need professionals familiar with mental health willing to serve on an advisory board. On a board. If you can’t help directly, share this post with someone who might be able to help. Or with someone who knows someone – make this viral. Postpartum women deserve to not have to add “worried about cost” to their concerns.
I can’t do this alone. But together we can drastically change the landscape of hope for women with Postpartum Depression. We can make recovery a reality for so many.
Are you in?
Let’s do this.