Did you know that in many countries, as many as 1 in 5 new mothers will experience some type of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMADs)? Women are affected regardless of culture, age, income level and race, and these illnesses frequently go unnoticed and untreated, often with tragic and long-term consequences for both mother and child. Symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth.

Through building awareness, World Maternal Mental Health Day on May 1st aims to prevent these tragedies and stands for just and scientifically based care. The initiative was first formed in 2016 by a group of international maternal mental health activists, academics and clinicians who understood the need for more awareness of this issue on a global scale. Increasing awareness will drive social change with a goal toward improving the quality of care for women experiencing all types of PMADs, and reduce the stigma of maternal mental illness.

The campaign encourages mental health professionals, friends and relatives to ask the new mother in their life how she’s really feeling and encourage her to seek help if need be. Fortunately, there are effective and well-researched treatment options available to help women recover.

Your mental health is important. To stay connected on this topic, follow #maternalMHmatters on Twitter for more information and ways that you can help.