The city has proclaimed May 1 as Maternal Mental Health Day in Toronto.
Maternal Mental Health Day is an international day that aims to raise awareness and eliminate the social stigma associated with perinatal mental health. Approximately one in five women will experience a perinatal mood disorder in their lifetime, and parenting partners and fathers can also experience depression and anxiety after the birth or adoption of their child.
“Raising awareness to eliminate stigma around maternal mental health is the first step in supporting parents facing this serious health challenge at a time that should be such a happy time in one’s life journey. I am proud of the ongoing support and expertise that Toronto Public Health staff provide with our community partners to Torontonians who are affected by this very serious health issue,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto Medical Officer of Health.
Perinatal mood disorders are the most common complications of childbirth, occurring during pregnancy and up to one year postpartum. Perinatal mood disorders can range in severity and include postpartum blues, perinatal anxiety, perinatal depression, paternal depression and postpartum psychosis. Left untreated, perinatal mood disorders can have long-term negative consequences for both children and families as a whole.
The Toronto Sign will also be lit in blue and green today in recognition of this global initiative and the CN Tower will be lit on May 3 to honour Maternal Mental Health Week, April 29 to May 3.
Symptoms of perinatal mood disorders may include low mood, loss of interest or enjoyment in activities, withdrawal from loved ones, sleep disturbances, feeling anxious and thoughts of self-harm. If someone is experiencing any of the above symptoms, Toronto Public Health provides tips on how to cope during this difficult time, as well as a list of local services that provide mental health support for women and their families, at toronto.ca/community-people/children-parenting/pregnancy-and-parenting/postpartum-depression-and-anxiety/services-in-toronto.
If someone needs urgent attention, they are encouraged to seek help from their doctor or visit the nearest emergency department immediately. Crisis workers and volunteers are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the Distress Centre by calling 416-408-4357 or at the Gerstein Crisis Support Line by calling 416-929-5200.