Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

Perinatal Mood Disorders Awareness Month

May – Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

The Illinois PPD Alliance has worked with Illinois Governors for the last 15 years in order to get May proclaimed Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month in Illinois.

Our hope is that the media in Illinois will use the proclamation to help women and their families become more awareness of the prevalence, symptoms and effects perinatal mood disorders can have on women and their families.

We also hope that hospitals and treatment centers will use the month to promote awareness in their communities and the disorders and the services that they have for pregnant and postpartum moms to help them get better. All the events that promote Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month in Illinois are listed on our Events page.

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Press Release about Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month


Contact: Dr. Sarah Allen, Director of the Postpartum Depression Alliance of Illinois:
847 791 -7722 or email Dr. Allen

Chicago, Illinois — Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is proclaiming May Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month in order to raise awareness of the common illness experienced by moms and moms-to-be.

Here in Illinois, the Postpartum Depression Illinois Alliance (PPD IL) works to promote awareness, prevention and treatment of maternal mental health issues throughout the state. PPD IL offers a helpline (847-205-4455) and website ( for women and their families so they can learn more about pregnancy & postpartum mood disorders and access local resources such as support groups and trained healthcare providers.

Dr. Allen is offering a free workshop for pregnant and new moms entitled Emotional Wellness for Moms on May 9th 1pm – 2.30pm at 3400 Dundee Road #245, Northbrook to discuss the challenges new moms face and offer ways women can look after themselves emotionally when they have a new baby. More information can be found at . Other events across Illinois to celebrate Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month are listed on the PPD Alliance of Illinois Events page

As president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, First Lady Diana Rauner has been a staunch advocate of a number of early intervention programs, including one that sends nurses on home visits to new mothers. All new moms experience some degree of anxiety,” Rauner said. “But those who are struggling through postpartum depression require and deserve intensive support — and ready access to ongoing treatment and mental health counseling services.  

“The work of nonprofits like Postpartum Depression Alliance of Illinois is tremendously important to achieve healthy outcomes for mother and child,” she continued. “I applaud their efforts to raise awareness of maternal mental health issues throughout the year, and especially during Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month this May.

The PPD Alliance of Illinois is choosing May, as it is home to Mother’s Day, to educate women and their families and friends about the nature of this illness. Approximately 15% of pregnant women and 15% – 20% of new mothers experience major or minor depression in the first year after giving birth. Methodological differences among the studies make the actual prevalence rate unclear. Also, this are statistics from women reporting how they feel, the actual number is probably much higher.

Symptoms differ for everyone but may include:

  • Many worries and panic attacks
  • Feelings of sadness, fear, anger and guilt
  • Possible thoughts of harming the baby or oneself
  • Lack of interest in the baby
  • Appetite & Sleep Disturbance
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions

Ireta Gasner, vice president of Illinois Policy at the Ounce of Prevention Fund understands the importance of raising awareness, prevention and treatment of maternal health issues. “We celebrate the decision to recognize May as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month,” said . “Positive maternal mental health plays a critical role in fostering healthy parent-child attachments,” Gasner said.  “And, a securely attached child demonstrates curiosity, willingness to explore, pleasure in learning and independence. Women have a range of experiences after giving birth and a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder does not define a woman’s ability to be a good parent and care for her child. We hope increased awareness will help new mothers identify symptoms, seek assistance and gain access to the support and interventions they need.

Symptoms of depression and anxiety occur in up to 20% of expectant and new moms, making these the most common complication of pregnancy, affecting nearly 1 million women every year in the United States alone. These emotional disorders cover a wide spectrum, including pregnancy depression and anxiety, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder and postpartum psychosis. Yet despite their prevalence, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are under-detected by health care professionals and many women go without treatment.

ILAIMH, The Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health, stated “We have always recognized that to champion and support the healthy social and emotional development of infants and young children it requires that we prioritize the social and emotional health of their parents, beginning from pregnancy and continuing through the important early years. The most hopeful knowledge we have about Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders is that they are highly responsive to medical and social interventions. If women don’t know that services are available or if services are difficult to access, they are denied the opportunity to provide themselves and their babies with the support and care that will make all the difference.


We want women to realize that they are not alone, they are not to blame and with help, you can be well again”, said Dr. Sarah Allen, Director PPD IL Alliance.

Vanessa, a survivor of PPD describes her experience:
I was diagnosed with postpartum depression 6 weeks after the birth of my son. I was sleep deprived, anxious, short tempered with my family, and plagued by horrible intrusive thoughts of my infant son falling over the balcony, or falling down the stairs. I also couldn’t look at knives and had to hide them away. I was so horrified by the vivid pictures of this in my head. As a result of these thoughts I could barely eat and was always nervous and anxious.

I knew this was not how it was supposed to be since I already had a 5 year old daughter and never suffered from these symptoms after her birth. I was afraid to be with my children alone so decided to stay with my mom for a few weeks. With medication and talk therapy I began my way to recovery. My saving grace was an online support group. I was able to read the feelings of others suffering and post my own. I felt an instant bond and was so thankful. I made a promise to myself and God that if I got through this horrible illness, I would help others. I was able to come off my antidepressant medication after 9 months and I became a moderator for and a telephone helpline volunteer for the PPD IL Alliance. My son is now 4 years old and I feel that time in my life was a blur. I make sure I spread the word about PPD and how common it really is. I feel that this illness was dealt to me for a positive reason. I am able to touch others that suffer and tell them that it isn’t a life sentence. PPD can be treated and cured.

For more information about pregnancy & postpartum mood disorders & Maternal Mental Health  Awareness Month contact: Dr. Sarah Allen, Director IL PPD Alliance at 847 791 -7722 or Email Dr. Allen.