A reflection from Executive Director, Lauren Barnes
On Saturday, September 9th a community gathered. Brave men and women came boldly from all over the state to for a night of uncomfortable conversation surrounding Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders.
This past Monday, our PMAD Support Group Leader, Kristin Morgan, shared her personal opinion and takeaways from WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS, the documentary we viewed together. (here) As an organization we encourage difference in thought. We feel it is crucial that we respect those with alternate opinions and that by engaging in respectful dialogue we better our culture.
Today, along Christi Stafford's images, I would like to share outcomes we are ALREADY seeing/feeling from this beautiful, yet difficult, night together.
"It was a wonderful experience and I'm so glad I went! Thank you for giving us this opportunity."
In addition to community partners, care providers, mothers, and fathers, we had medical students in the audience. The effects of their exposure to such powerful education will have positive effects for years to come!
"The PPD presentation was a WONDERFUL independent clinical opportunity, and I am so glad that I went! I learned a lot, and I really feel like I gained information that I can apply not just in a hospital setting, but with my family and friends as well. "
Yes, the subject matter is dark. Yes, the topic is heavy. Yes, the films tells the hardest stories. But friends, the conversation must begin. Improving the maternal mental health of women in our communities is IMPERATIVE. It cannot wait for the perfect conditions. It must start now.
I am thrilled to report that a brand new Lynchburg Maternal Mental Health Coalition is in the early planning stages, (email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info), continuing to assess the needs of women experiencing depression and anxiety in pregnancy/postpartum in our community and improve overall outcomes. The conversation has begun.
PMAD Support Group numbers are up across the board. We strongly believe that we each play a role in erasing stigmas, and often documentaries like WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS are tools for normalization and validation. We can't simply sit around and expect women to find help when they're drowning. We must throw them a life raft. This film, the panel that followed, and our community resources are life saving devices.
In closing. They often say to look deeply at those who around you when you're attempting to take the "temperature" of a culture. Friends, the vast amount of women who gave of their time and resources to make this event free and accessible to the public on Saturday, September 9th shows me that our community VALUES it's women. It values their triumphs and their struggles - their joys and their sorrows - their health and their pain.
You are not alone. Take a look around you. The conversation has begun. You matter. Your well-being maters. You are not alone.
Thank you to the brave women: Jamielyn Lippman, Tanya Newbould, and Lindsay Gerszt, who made this film and told the hard stories. Thank you to our volunteers: Board Members, Kathy and Julia, Shelby, Ashley, Edi, Christi, Kathleen, Kayleigh, Carrie, Kat, Becca, Anna, Mariana, Alisha, and Erica. Thank you to our amazing photographer: Christi Stafford Photography. Thank you to our Panelists (see photo). Thank you to our partners: Lynchburg Parks and Rec & Revive Postpartum. Without you this conversation would not have begun. You are changing a culture. You are improving maternal health.