World Maternal Mental Health Day

This week is World Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.  It is a week-long campaign from 1 to 7 May dedicated to talking about mental illness while pregnant or after having a baby.  It is held at a time close to Mother’s Day and Mental Health Week.  Now to explain more about what World Maternal Mental Health Day is that falls on 3 May 2023. This very important day draws attention to essential mental health concerns for mothers and their families. It raises awareness in an attempt to change attitudes such as to reduce stigma and to influence policies around maternal mental health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines maternal mental health as “a state of well-being in which a mother realises her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her community”. 

To increase awareness, which will drive social change, improve the quality of care for women and reduce the stigma of maternal mental illness, World WIZO is hosting dozens of free lectures this week on mental health for women across Israel. Health professionals will be giving talks on topics the likes of “the language of babies, music therapy and postpartum depression, the courage to be you, emotional preparation for parenthood, and to look depression in the face; a personal story”.

Life changes around pregnancy make women more vulnerable to mental illness and psychiatric diseases often appear during the postpartum period. These illnesses include depression, bipolar, anxiety and personality disorders.  This can impact on a woman’s ability to function and thrive and may also affect her foetus or child with long-lasting physical, cognitive and emotional outcomes.  Perinatal issues affect the entire family.  It can affect the parent’s ability to bond with their baby and dads may also develop depression during this time.

These illnesses frequently go unnoticed and untreated, often with tragic and long-term consequences to both the mother and child.  This is where our WIZO is so important and vital for women and men. WIZO is aware that a lack of social support can cause loneliness, emotional isolation and profound feelings of distress which can prevent women from receiving the help that they need.  An integrated approach to family mental health allows both parents to move beyond the postpartum period as a thriving family unit.

WIZO assists with virtual and real-life support and focuses on working together with families at this difficult time to enable recovery. WIZO attempts to reduce depression and anxiety and hopes to sometimes prevent this.  The good news is that with the correct treatment women can recover.  

Mental health care provides the necessary support to empower women to identify helpful resources and their own personal capabilities. This will then enhance their resilience to difficult life circumstances and give them the support they need. 

By caring for mothers, our WIZO shows a positive intervention for long-term social development and thereby serves Israel with its upliftment of Israeli society.

Warm regards


Shelley Trope-Friedman

President WIZO South Africa