May is Maternal Mental Health Month, a time to raise awareness about the mental health of mothers during and after pregnancy. Pregnancy can be an exciting and joyful time, but for many women, this time can also come with challenges. Many women experience the onset of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, or PMADs, such as postpartum depression, anxiety and mood disorders, psychosis, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, during pregnancy and after giving birth. The ongoing pandemic has left pregnant and postpartum women in a more vulnerable state than ever before: over the past year, research suggests that PMAD rates have sharply increased.
For working mothers, a lack of access to protections such as paid leave and workplace accommodations for their mental health only exacerbates the impact of PMADs, as ABB Co-President Dina Bakst discussed in a recent panel event hosted by the Motherhood Center of New York. This absence of supportive policies for working moms, in addition to social stigma surrounding maternal mental health, disproportionately affects women of color; Black mothers are more likely to suffer from PMADs, and to suffer in silence and without clinical help.
Various federal, state, and local laws provide certain workers experiencing PMADs like postpartum depression the right to receive accommodations at work, take leave, and be free from workplace discrimination. For more information about your rights when experiencing postpartum depression, consult our recent Postpartum Depression and Workplace Rights fact sheet.
This Maternal Mental Health Month, we are dedicated to equipping working mothers to know their rights when it comes to requesting accommodations in the workplace and taking paid leave to care for themselves. We must also combat social stigmas surrounding perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and increase visibility of this problem, so that mothers and their healthcare providers are equipped with the support they need.
For more information about the laws where you work, visit A Better Balance’s Workplace Rights Hub here. If you have questions, call A Better Balance’s free, confidential legal hotline at 1-833-NEED-ABB (1-833-633-3222) or contact the helpline here.