Early last week we had the distinct pleasure to host our friend and colleague, Adrienne Griffen, here in Lynchburg, VA. She is a postpartum depression survivor and the Founder and Executive Director of Postpartum Support Virginia. 

While she was here we had the opportunity to visit many local practices and speak with an excellent representation of the maternal and infant health care providers in our local community. We had the opportunity to begin to do some problem-solving when it comes to erasing the stigma of maternal mental health.

There was one word to that continually arose in each venue we visited. That word was, "relationship." Steps forward simply cannot be made without relationship.

In a culture where one in five women will struggle with Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) and where one in four women will experience miscarriage or pregnancy loss, we must have relationships. 

I firmly believe that this responsibility does not fall solely on the care providers. I believe the responsibility belongs to the entire community. I believe the responsibility of relationships falls on us. 

This is not easy as each of us is walking through difficulties. But friends, advocates, and fellow workers in this field, – No one is alone. It is a lie that we tell ourselves.  It is a falsehood that we are unable to be known and understood by anyone else. We must open ourselves. We must share our stories we must embolden ourselves to ask the question, "but how are you really doing?" 

We must inquire about the woman behind the pregnancy, or the woman behind the fertility treatments, or the woman behind the adorable baby. We must not be afraid to ask about mental health. We must be able to tell her that her loss matters - that her longing matters- that SHE matters

We must start the relationships now, we cannot wait until it is too late. So friends, today I challenge you. I challenge you to invite a friend who you suppose is doing, "just fine" to join you at one of our local programs, or for coffee, or for a walk. Push in. Offer help. Start a relationship.

Most sincerely,