IEHP team helps break mental health stigma, one new mom at a time

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For millions of new moms, like Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) Member Gerti, motherhood – and all the challenges it brings – can be overwhelming. After the birth of her daughter, Gerti struggled with her mental health and recognized she needed help – so she turned to IEHP.
Through her connection to Katia, a behavioral health specialist on IEHP’s maternal mental health team, Gerti learned she was experiencing postpartum depression and was connected to various resources, including supportive therapy.

Although common (the CDC cites 1 in 8 women who recently gave birth suffer from it), postpartum depression is more severe and long-lasting than the “baby blues,” which can include short-lived bouts of mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping.

“I was just really looking for help, because it gets overwhelming – especially becoming a new mom,” explained Gerti. “Sometimes the depression just catches you. I just want to get through this, so I can push through for my baby, for my sanity, for my happiness.”

As Katia explains, no mother with these challenges should ever feel ashamed. Feeling anxious,
overwhelmed and depressed are all considered typical emotions during pregnancy and after birth.

“It’s normal [for new moms] to feel the way they do; there is nothing wrong with feeling that way,” said Katia, who also personally experienced postpartum depression. “They should be proud of themselves for reaching out for help – and that is where we come in.”

IEHP’s maternal mental health team is a small, but mighty unit within the behavioral health
department that connects Members with mental health services such as therapy and psychiatry. The maternal mental health team regularly checks in with Members to ask how they are feeling, what they need and to help them make those sometimes hard, but life-altering first steps of scheduling and attending therapy appointments.

The team supports Members like Gerti through every step of their recovery and journey through motherhood – even if it’s to simply ask how they are doing.

“If I am able to take care of myself better, I will be able to take care of my baby much more,” explained Gerti. “I know that every time I am having trouble, help is just one phone call away.”

To learn more about Gerti’s story, visit: https://youtu.be/8IRKPmIk2CM.

If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression or mental health, IEHP is here for you. IEHP Members can call Member Services to connect with our behavioral health team. For a mental health emergency, please call the Mental Health and Suicide Crisis Hotline at 988.