You do not need any credentials or special training in order to be a maternal mental health advocate. If you want to volunteer for a specific agency or attend a program to learn more, that’s great! But if you want to fight the stigma of maternal mental illnesses, then you already have everything you need to be an advocate.
But where do you start?
If you have an idea of something you want to do, by all means, do it. Your voice and ideas are valuable and necessary.
But when I first started out on my journal as a maternal mental health advocate, I did not know where to begin. I just knew I had to do something. If you have the desire to be an advocate, but don’t know where to start, don’t beat yourself up. You are not alone. I had no idea what I was doing when I started! I had to fumble around and experiment and try lots of things before I realized I wanted to start a podcast and run a mom-to-mom postpartum support group. And even now, over four years into my advocacy, I still don’t always know what I’m doing. I just try different things to see what works.
In case you don’t know where to start, here are some easy ways to start your advocacy adventures:
- Hop on to social media and search relevant hashtags like #postpartumdepression. Hit the like button to show your support for the post. I love posting on Instagram about my postpartum experiences, and those hearts mean a lot. They inspire me to keep posting.
- Have you read any books that helped your recovery? Write a review! That helps boost the book’s visibility which in turn helps moms in the darkness find the resources they need.
- If and when you are ready, tell your social media followers that you had or have a maternal mood disorder.
- Tell your child’s pediatrician about your maternal mood disorder. Pediatricians see new moms regularly, but it’s not easy to bring up the subject of anxiety and depression. If you talk about your experiences with a pediatrician, you are helping them rehearse for their next encounter with a mom in the darkness.
- The next time someone you know has a baby, send her a private message and tell her you hope she is feeling well, but if she is ever struggling, you are there to talk.
But remember: only you know you, and your intuition already knows what you need to be doing. Listen to your gut and do what feels right for you. That is the best thing for your advocacy journey.