Maternal Mental Health Awareness Event Held in Mary Esther, Florida

The Perinatal Mental Health Task Force of the Emerald Coast hosted a screening of the movie documentary, Dark Side of the Full Moon, at the UA Santa Rosa Theater in Mary Esther, Florida, on Tuesday, May 31st at 6:30 pm. 

 Audience watching the movie

Audience watching the movie

The feature-length documentary depicted the stories of several moms, who experienced maternal mental health complications.  Maternal mental illness is one of the most common complications of childbirth affecting more than 1.3 million mothers each year in the United States.  The film addressed the failures of the mental health system, the lack of maternal mental health training of providers as well the fact that screening of moms for depression and anxiety is not the norm.

A viewer of the film, Marcia Baris-Sanders, said “the film was eye-opening, informative and inspiring.” The film discusses the demands placed on mothers today and the lack of support available and David, another viewer of the film, said “It’s sad realizing that our society treats motherhood as a hobby.”  Jodi, a local mom, who personally experienced mental health complications after her second child, says “The film was excellent, a true must see if you are a mother, thinking of becoming a mother, or have had a mother.”

 Panel Members

Panel Members

After the movie, there was a thought-provoking Q&A discussion with a distinguished panel.  Panel members included Dr. Lynn Keefe, a pediatrician from Niceville, Susan Michaels, a Healthy Start Nurse from Santa Rosa County, Don Harrison, a licensed Mental Health Counselor and current President of NAMI Emerald Coast (the local chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness), Carolyn Ketchel, a social worker and Okaloosa County Commissioner, and Jennifer Moyer, a mental health advocate and author of the book, A Mother’s Climb Out of Darkness: A Story About Overcoming Postpartum PsychosisThe issues discussed included the need for additional mental health services in the community as well as the importance of moms receiving empathetic and understanding help and support when faced with a mental health complication related to childbearing.

The event was also a fundraiser for the Emerald Coast chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).  According to Don Harrison, President of NAMI Emerald Coast, “NAMI, as the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, is dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.  Bringing awareness about mental health issues such as Perinatal Mental Health helps reduce stigma, and promotes the development of services in areas that may be lacking in our community.  In addition to events like this, NAMI offers support groups and classes for persons affected by mental health issues including their families.  You can find out more by contacting NAMI.   Here is link to find your local NAMI: http://www.nami.org/Find-Your-Local-NAMI