Maternal mental health: Breaking the stigma for all moms

When Gerti P. looks at her 1-year-old daughter, Geralie, the world lights up in both of their eyes. Geralie gives a sweet, heartwarming smile anytime her mom kisses her cheek and picks her up in a loving cradle.


But for millions of new moms, like IEHP member Gerti, motherhood – and all the challenges it brings – can be overwhelming.


Thankfully, she knew exactly where to turn.


Gerti called IEHP and was connected to Katia Angulo, a behavioral health specialist on the maternal mental health team.


Turns out, Gerti was experiencing postpartum depression, which is extremely common among mothers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites 1 in 8 women who recently give birth suffer from it.


“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.”


Immediately after childbirth, most women experience “baby blues,” which can include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping – all very normal, but short-lived symptoms. However, postpartum depression is more severe and long-lasting, usually requiring treatment from a mental health professional.


“It’s normal (for new moms) to feel the way they do; there is nothing wrong with feeling that way,” said Katia. “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. Behavioral health specialists regularly check 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.


Katia deeply understands what IEHP members she supports are going through – after all, she also suffered postpartum depression following the birth of her daughter.


So, for Katia, her role with IEHP is much more than a job, a career or even a calling: It is a chance to provide IEHP members with maternal mental health challenges the help she wishes she had.


“Having someone call me, just to see how I was doing, would have been so beneficial for me, so I take that with every call I make,” said Katia.


Watch a video of Gerti’s story here:

-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 be connected with our Behavioral Health team. For a mental health emergency, please call the Mental Health and Suicide Crisis Hotline at 988.