Maternal Mental Health: Speak Up TENNESSEE!

Maternal Mental Health Disorders, like Postpartum Depression, Impact up to 800,000 Women Each Year but Only 15% Will Get the Help They Need

This week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness week. This means, if you are a mom, know a mom, or have a mom – this issue affects YOU. 

I founded Ready Nest Counseling in Nashville, TN to help individuals and couples transition through the life stages of conception, infertility, pregnancy, and postpartum to better equip and empower their relational and emotional health for the joys and challenges that these milestones create. It’s always a privilege to sit down with someone in their journey and help them climb out of the darkness and not feel so alone.

The Problem
As I encounter new mothers suffering from postpartum depression, anxiety, or any of the perinatal mood disorders, I’m repeatedly concerned at how many of them have slipped through the gaps in our system between the medical and mental health communities. Moms are devastated, dads feel helpless, and the entire family dynamic is struggling to survive in what they anticipated to be the most joyous time in their life. Meanwhile, their brand new baby is sensing the disconnect of parents who are frustrated as they search for help.

There are many AMAZING doctors in Nashville. So, why aren’t they screening these mothers for PPD? How are moms going undiagnosed and unaware that what they are experiencing is temporary and entirely treatable? 

Many times, doctors and nurses want to help – but, they are either unaware of the signs and symptoms of maternal mental illness (a mom can look totally “together” and still be suffering in silence) OR they choose not to screen them because there is no answer for where to send this mother if she ends up needing help.

Simply put, there is NO standardization for a continuum of care for screening and treating maternal mental illness in Tennessee.


The Solution
Last week, I had the privilege of meeting with Speaker of the House of Representatives of Tennessee, Beth Harwell. I presented to her a humble proposal to establish the Postpartum Alliance of Nashville. This alliance would serve as a model for other cities in our great state, hopefully creating a standard for care that can be followed throughout the state.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Beth Harwell, and Emily Pardy of Ready Nest Counseling

The Postpartum Alliance of Tennessee would establish standards of screening, and provide access to resources for treatment that every family could benefit from. It literally takes 2 minutes to screen a mom, 2 minutes to score the form, and 1 minute to refer her to a source for further help. This means FIVE MINUTES COULD SAVE A LIFE, and a family can thrive due to this simple step!

Here’s the great news – in 2016 a bill passed called Bringing Postpartum Out of the Shadows Act, which, if funded, will provide states with federal grants to develop and maintain programs for improved screening and treatment.

All we have to do is get the attention of our legislators to know that these funds are NEEDED and ready to be directed to helping families in Tennessee.

If you live in Tennessee – it’s time to SPEAK UP!
Here is what you can do:

  1. Email Speaker Harwell and let her know you care! I’ve already written the letter for you and attached all of the email addresses of Senate and House Representatives who need to know about this important issue.
  2. Sign up to stay updated! You can visit the brand new site and sign up to make sure you don’t miss out on any updates as things progress forward. WE NEED YOUR HELP and want you to do your part to change it all.
  3. SHARE SHARE SHARE! We can’t stay silent and expect anything to change. We’ve got to shout it from the rooftops that MOMS MATTER and there are easy steps we can take that can make a huge impact. Forward this blog, share it on social media, get your grandma to email Speaker Harwell…the list goes on. SHARE!
  4. Hug a mom. This all means nothing if we don’t actually care. Moms have STORIES and each one of them matters. I am blessed because I get to hear these stories and witness hearts changing before my eyes all the time – but you can too! Just look around you and simply ask a mom how she is (how she really is) and what you can do to help her out. It takes a village, people!
  • Up to 20% of mothers experience Postpartum Depression following childbirth
  • Only 50% of these mothers are ever diagnosed
  • Only 15% of diagnosed mothers ever receive professional treatment

Together, we can take steps to make REAL CHANGE. Together, we can help families feel supported and empowered. Together, we can turn the tide on the statistics above and create a community that’s thriving through every season.

Let’s do this.

Emily Pardy, MMFT
Founder & Couselor (and mom of 3!)
Ready Nest Counseling