It is estimated that postpartum mental health challenges affect 10-15% of Canadian women who have given birth. Conducting a postpartum check-in is a great way to bust stigma around the issue and kickstart dialogue between loved ones. We hope you will conduct a postpartum mental health 'check-in' with a loved one who has a new baby through a quick message or phone call as often as you can. Let’s make an extra effort to reach out to parents with a new baby and let them know that they are cared for and that no struggle is too big or too small to share with their closest supports.
It’s easy to reach out, technically
We have a long way to go with mental health in our culture. Personally, I find this topic to be the most difficult to raise with my closest friends and family. To help us all figure this out together we have gathered some intel from moms and mental health experts alike.
Starting the conversation
Only you know what will resonate with your friend or loved one. Checking-in requires a fine balance of being yourself while understanding that your loved one might not be quite themselves. Here are some ideas to help you craft your check-in message:
“Congrats on your baby! How are you doing?! [Insert baby emoji, family emoji, ice cream cone emoji]”
“Hey I have heard that labour and delivery can be pretty intense. How are you feeling?”
Bell Let’s Talk has some great advice if you think your loved one may be struggling:
- Ask how the person is doing and be specific about what you’ve noticed that is concerning you.
- If you have struggled with feelings that your friend might identify with you could tell her how you’ve felt, and how you coped with these feelings in the past.
- Even if your friend doesn’t want to talk, knowing that you care can help her to feel less alone.
"I've noticed you've been down lately. Is everything ok? I'm always here to listen."
What to do if you’re learning about a struggle
When you check-in you may get into some deep convos and feel like you’re without a paddle. In fact, we hope you get into some deep convos because that’s what this is about: mental health struggle is real for many parents with a new baby and it’s there whether you address it and offer support or not. Here are some follow-up conversation tips which might help you along the path:
The Bell Let’s Talk guide has a helpful tool to identify urgency. Give it a read before you check-in. If you or your friend are experiencing a mental health crisis ditch this blog post and dial 9-1-1.
Acknowledge, listen, and follow their lead:
“I felt like I was taking crazy pills and he was just like ‘oh you’ll be ok’ and I was thinking ‘I don’t feel like I will be ok.’”
- A comment like “Just relax” or “You’ll get over it” can come across as judgmental.
- Show your friend you’re there to offer support. Suggest going for dinner or a coffee, if this is the kind of thing you normally do together, or ask her what she would like to do instead.
- Have the kinds of conversations you usually have with her. People don’t want to feel judged or be defined by a mental health problem if this is what they are experiencing. (Bell Let’s Talk guide)
Remove obstacles to accessing those resources:
“I’d love to help by babysitting the kids/making dinner/doing the laundry while you go to your appointment.”