Despite motherhood’s moments of a lifetime—memorialized in sweet, compassionate, angelic photos and baby books—we know that behind the scenes lies a buzzing freeway or turnpike with too few rest areas for the mother. This is one reason we designate a Mother’s Day each year.
An early stage healthcare investor and philanthropist, Ara Chackerian, recognizes the essential role anthropologically and spiritually that moms play in this wide world. For this reason, particular figures and statistics that conflict with blissful images of motherhood draw his concern. He says it should also draw the attention of others.
Over the most recent Mother’s Day in the U.S. alone, there were roughly more than 300,000 live births. Of all the mothers giving birth, somewhere between 70-80 percent will experience a bit of the euphemistic baby blues or the more consequential condition known as postpartum depression, including its sub-conditions. Note: This doesn’t include mothers experiencing stillbirths or loss of fetus in womb. They are just as susceptible to the same level of depression if not greater.
According to Postpartum Depression, a community of parents and medical professionals like Chackerian that provides postpartum support, 1 in 7 women can expect to encounter depression within the first year of motherhood. In a year, about 600,000 new mothers are diagnosed with this form of depression. However, the number of new mothers who go undiagnosed and unchecked for postpartum depression compound the sheer numbers diagnosed with it.
Concern Grows in the UK
According to an article in the international edition of The Guardian, concern for the undiagnosed among UK mental health experts and the British government continues to grow. Consequently, they are proposing proactive legislation.
The article notes that roughly half of all mothers in the UK encounter a mental health problem of some variety during the first year after the baby’s birth. It cites depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and postpartum psychosis as examples.
According to the country’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the problem lies in common practice among physicians. Child and mother are formally supposed to be assessed by a general practitioner during a six-week postnatal check. However, research by NICE indicates that 42 percent of mothers report that their postpartum mental health issues go unaddressed and unchecked by doctors during this time. More effort and concern is devoted to the baby.
The checkup for a mother’s mental health is either conducted hastily or not at all in these cases, according to The Guardian article.
Ministers Propose a Fix
As a result, a group across all the political parties is formally urging the minister of public health and primary care to order automatic mental-health checkups for mothers. They propose assessments solely devoted to the mother and separate from the checkup for the baby.
Medical professionals and those who help fund medical communities, such as Ara Chackerian, realize the hazard in neglecting such mental health among mothers. As the parliamentary ministers in the UK point out in their letter to the public health minister, the potential for “significant harm caused to mothers and children by low rates of diagnosis” of postpartum depression continues to rise.
Getting a Handle on the Problem
As Chackerian opines, no matter the country, all new mothers deserve an open, frank, and realistic exchange with doctors about their mental health and the impact a newborn might impart on those mothers. Moreover, Chackerian says, systems should be in place to guarantee a treatment and regimen for treatment when postpartum depression or similar syndrome is detected.
Indeed, Postpartum Depression notes that some medical experts believe that postpartum depression might amount to twice the number as that which is reported and diagnosed across the globe.
Crossing Cultures and Gender Lines
Chackerian, whose investments reach around the world and its diverse cultures, says that this form of depression is not discriminatory. One study indicates that at least 65 percent of new mothers across Asia suffer some form of postpartum depression.
Chackerian also notes figures showing that this mental health affliction is not necessarily gender specific. Postpartummen.com, a self-help site for fathers experiencing a mood swing after a child’s birth, estimates that about 10 percent of new fathers experience depression symptoms.
Therefore, the void of formal mental-health checkups for fathers can also complicate and damage a family’s welfare.
Raising Awareness will Help
The biggest challenge, says Chackerian, is raising awareness of this form of depression and addressing it based on studies, just as the UK is so doing today. He insists that it understandably affects mothers first, but it also affects the continuing development and facilitations dependent on investors or philanthropists such as himself.
Solutions Must Account for Cultural Differences
He and others also caution that like many other mental disorders, its breadth and dynamic is not the same from one country to another.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information cites studies showing that countries and cultures influenced by Western values tend to devote more attention to the baby’s health after six weeks than they do the new mother’s health.
Conversely, some non-Western cultures apply more emphasis on the new mother’s physical and emotional needs.
So, Chackerian avers, further study on establishing more medical emphasis on postpartum depression must be guided by the norms of given cultures.