The Darkest Light

'We Didn't Know' — 3 Mothers, 3 Stories of Maternal Mental Health

May 24, 2023 Kanya D'Almeida Season 2 Episode 5
'We Didn't Know' — 3 Mothers, 3 Stories of Maternal Mental Health
The Darkest Light
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The Darkest Light
'We Didn't Know' — 3 Mothers, 3 Stories of Maternal Mental Health
May 24, 2023 Season 2 Episode 5
Kanya D'Almeida

Every year, 25 to 30 women in Sri Lanka commit suicide during pregnancy or within one year of delivery.

According to Sri Lanka’s Maternal & Child Morbidity & Mortality Surveillance Unit, the country reported nearly 450 maternal suicides between 2002 and 2018.

Despite these startling numbers, maternal mental health continues to be a hugely under-researched area of public health in Sri Lanka—we do not collect national-level data on perinatal mental health, and perinatal psychiatry is not a specialized field of study and training within the medical system.

For the final episode of Season 2, I talked to 3 mothers about their experiences with maternal mental health. What emerged in our conversation was a clear and disturbing pattern: until we ourselves experienced postpartum mental health issues, we were completely ignorant of the range and severity of disorders, illnesses and conditions that can afflict women during pregnancy, childbirth and several years postpartum.

As we each shared our personal stories, we realized that the lack of conversation, education and awareness around maternal mental health is as big of a barrier to mothers' wellbeing as the lack of medical training, support services and facilities dedicated to perinatal mental health.

Links and Resources:

Maternal Mental Health in Sri Lanka: Challenges and Solutions
(Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Antenatal depression in Sri Lanka: a qualitative study of public health midwives’ views and practices
(BMC Medical Journal, 2022)

Postpartum Support International Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders
FACT SHEET

A Lonely Struggle: 9 mothers around the world share the mental health challenges they faced during the 'happiest time of their lives'
(CNN)

Post-traumatic stress disorder following childbirth
(BMC Psychiatry, 2021)







Show Notes

Every year, 25 to 30 women in Sri Lanka commit suicide during pregnancy or within one year of delivery.

According to Sri Lanka’s Maternal & Child Morbidity & Mortality Surveillance Unit, the country reported nearly 450 maternal suicides between 2002 and 2018.

Despite these startling numbers, maternal mental health continues to be a hugely under-researched area of public health in Sri Lanka—we do not collect national-level data on perinatal mental health, and perinatal psychiatry is not a specialized field of study and training within the medical system.

For the final episode of Season 2, I talked to 3 mothers about their experiences with maternal mental health. What emerged in our conversation was a clear and disturbing pattern: until we ourselves experienced postpartum mental health issues, we were completely ignorant of the range and severity of disorders, illnesses and conditions that can afflict women during pregnancy, childbirth and several years postpartum.

As we each shared our personal stories, we realized that the lack of conversation, education and awareness around maternal mental health is as big of a barrier to mothers' wellbeing as the lack of medical training, support services and facilities dedicated to perinatal mental health.

Links and Resources:

Maternal Mental Health in Sri Lanka: Challenges and Solutions
(Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Antenatal depression in Sri Lanka: a qualitative study of public health midwives’ views and practices
(BMC Medical Journal, 2022)

Postpartum Support International Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders
FACT SHEET

A Lonely Struggle: 9 mothers around the world share the mental health challenges they faced during the 'happiest time of their lives'
(CNN)

Post-traumatic stress disorder following childbirth
(BMC Psychiatry, 2021)