Mental health care is often seen as treatment during a challenging time. Perhaps a couple is on the brink of divorce and reaches out for marriage therapy. Or an individual has felt anxious for the past six months but decided to reach out for help when they can’t go to work anymore. This is a time to reach out for support, but what if help was received early on? In many cases, early treatment contributes to better outcomes. This is because a crisis can often be avoided if treatment is sought before a crisis.
We know this when it comes to physical health. We see better health outcomes (in general) for people who have an active lifestyle and eat plant-based. We can also apply this to mental health. Mental illness is often looked at as something randomly coming upon someone without explanation. Or maybe we can look at a stressful situation that triggered someone’s depression but only see the situation as the trigger and overlook other contributing factors. Mental health can be approached proactively to help decrease the intensity of symptoms or eliminate them with early treatment.
When we look at pregnancy and postpartum, we know this is a complex time for women. Their bodies become depleted of vital minerals and nutrients, their hormones are balanced very differently, their life and relational roles change dramatically, and they have increased responsibility on top of an already packed schedule. Because of this complexity, it can be a time of increased mental health concerns.
Rather than waiting to see if a woman struggles or develops a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, we can take a proactive approach. A proactive approach entails increased education and support for women before the postpartum season. This education should include nutritional education (about both postpartum healing and mental wellness), hormonal education, relationship preparation (with a partner, family, and yourself), expected vs. unexpected mental health changes, and coping skills. Individualized planning for the postpartum season also helps women and families to achieve their priorities and set up needed support rather than assume they will be there.
My approach to mental health is aligned with proactive and preventative treatments. I have seen women be better prepared for postpartum and see how this has a dramatically positive impact on their transition. If this is something you would like to know more about or would like to work with me, reach out to me, and we can chat more!