Caring for Maternal Mental Health: A Crucial Priority for Family Well-being

Maternal mental health is a fundamental concern that deserves ongoing attention and support. Recognizing and addressing the emotional needs of mothers is essential for the overall well-being of the family.

Recently, Dr. Linda Herrera Santos, Director of the MGH Hispanic Psychiatry Clinic and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, was invited for the health segment of a Un minuto de salud en la Hora del Café!

With extensive experience, Dr. Herrera Santos has demonstrated a commitment to addressing mental health in underserved populations, leading her to establish the Hispanic Psychiatry Clinic. Dr. Herrera Santos has received prestigious awards, such as the APA SAMHSA Minority Fellowship. Her passion lies in providing mental health services to Hispanic communities, contributing to an inclusive healthcare environment, and ensuring quality care for all.

Demystifying Maternal Mental Health: An Interview with Dr. Linda Herrera Santos

In a revealing conversation on Un minuto de salud en la Hora del Café, Dr. Linda Herrera Santos addresses one of the main myths surrounding maternal mental health.

She explores the complexity of emotions during pregnancy and postpartum, noting that these periods are authentic roller coasters for women, marked by significant physical, hormonal, and emotional changes.

Dr. Herrera Santos emphasizes the importance of recognizing the direct impact of maternal mental health on the entire family.

She clarifies how untreated issues can lead to complications in pregnancy, from premature births to low birth weight. Additionally, she highlights the vital connection between the mother’s mental health and the child’s emotional, cognitive, and social development.

Establishing an emotional bond is crucial.

Dr. Herrera Santos points out that persistent issues in the mother can contribute to behavioral problems in the child and increase the risk of future mental health problems. She calls for awareness and action, urging mothers to seek help for signs such as persistent sadness, intense anxiety, changes in sleep patterns, and more.

Click to watch the full interview and explore important aspects of maternal mental health.

Factors Affecting Maternal Mental Health

Recognizing and addressing the emotional needs of mothers is essential for the overall well-being of the family.
  1. Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy and postpartum can trigger mood and mental health changes.
  2. Social Pressures: Social and cultural expectations about motherhood can create additional pressures, contributing to stress.
  3. Isolation: The feeling of isolation, especially during the postpartum period, can have a negative impact on mental health.
  4. Mental Health History: A history of mental disorders can increase vulnerability.

Strategies for Maternal Mental Well-being:

  1. Community Support: Encourage support networks among mothers to share experiences and advice.
  2. Access to Resources: Ensure that mothers have access to information and mental health services.
  3. Time for Self-Care: Promote the importance of self-care and ensure that mothers have time for themselves.
  4. Awareness and Stigma Elimination: Challenge stigmas associated with maternal mental health challenges and encourage openness and understanding.

Available Resources:
MassHealth: This state program offers health coverage for pregnant women and low-income families. Make sure to know the available benefits and services.
NAMI Massachusetts: The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Massachusetts) is a nonprofit organization that aims to improve the quality of life for people living with mental health conditions, their families, and caregivers.
MCPAP for Moms: provides real-time perinatal psychiatric consultations, resources, and referrals for obstetric, pediatric, primary care, psychiatric, and substance use disorder providers to effectively prevent, identify, and manage the mental health and substance use issues of their pregnant and postpartum patients.