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New hotline helps mothers struggling with mental health

By Laura Giles - Herald Correspondent | May 22, 2022

Courtesy Wasatch Behavioral Health

The receiving center of Wasatch Behavioral Health.

Wasatch Behavioral Health is getting the word out about a new hotline designed for expecting and new mothers who are experiencing mental health challenges. The toll-free hotline, launched this month, is operated by the Health Resources and Services Administration. When called, trained counselors will provide brief interventions and give referrals to local help for the mothers.

“The hotline is a very important thing because postpartum stuff is not something we talk about,” said Kayelyn Robinson, Wasatch Behavioral Health therapist. “If they have a hotline to call, it gives them a place to get some help and some resources.”

Robinson said that people often do not realize that a new mom is struggling. “There are so many changes going on in the body. They feel alone. They feel like they’re terrible moms. They aren’t taking care of themselves. We know lack of sleep causes a decrease in mental health. With a new baby, there is lack of sleep. They get irritable and anxiety. They don’t want to yell at their kids, but they are. They feel guilty. They don’t do anything to cause this,” she said.

While it is common to have some “baby blues” during the postpartum period, Robinson said that perinatal mood anxiety disorders are different. While the baby blues tend to be over in a three-week period after the baby is born, mood disorders become worse, and begin to interfere with everyday life. “It’s more severe,” she said.

Mood disorders can cause intense anger, trouble falling asleep, sleeping too much, trouble making decisions, not caring for themself, inability to carry out everyday tasks, crying spells, not showing a lot of concern for baby and more. Robinson said that, with common baby blues, mothers might feel nervous about the baby. When they don’t want anything to do with the baby and they are totally withdrawing, having negative feelings about the baby or having thoughts of harming the baby, that is a mood disorder. It’s a serious issue that needs to be addressed in a proper way.

“We focus a lot on self-care, using the SNOWBALL acronym,” Robinson said. This consists of sleep, nutrition, Omega-3s, walks, baby breaks, adult time, liquids and laughter. “When we laugh, we release tension and stress. I focus a lot on that and checking in about support systems,” she said.

According to a post on Maternal Mental Health Utah’s Facebook page, 44.8% of Utah parents experience maternal mental health issues. “If you don’t feel like yourself, or if your family and friends notice you’re not acting like yourself, then there is no harm in getting extra help,” reads the post.

Robinson said that it would be helpful if pediatricians, as well as obstetricians, would administer postnatal depression screening tools. Pediatricians usually see new mothers more often than the obstetrician does, she said. Screening for mental health issues could help mothers who are suffering but are not sure how, or where, to get help.

Moms can now call or text 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS and connect with a counselor at no charge.

More information about the maternal mental health hotline can be found at http://hrsa.gov. Other helpful resources include Postpartum Support International Utah, and The Emily Effect.

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