As we headed into Mother’s Day weekend, I joined advocates across the country and on social media to raise awareness of postpartum depression and maternal mental health issues. As you know, I have been hard at work with Councilmember David Ryu to institute full paid parental leave for all working parents in Los Angeles. In researching the effectiveness of similar programs across the country, I came across a deeply troubling statistic: 25% of women in the US have to go back to work just two weeks after the birth of their child just to make ends meet.
I was reminded of a time in my life I have only begun to talk about - my experience with postpartum depression. On May 1st, I welcomed the wonderful organization Maternal Mental Health Now to help me raise awareness of postpartum depression and to help expand our idea of what it means to be a mother. We have a fairy tale notion of motherhood that we openly celebrate. But, we have not been as willing to discuss the very real struggle that millions of mothers in Los Angeles and across the world experience every day. Maternal depression is the leading complication of childbirth affecting 1 in 6 women in Los Angeles County. It is no wonder that low-income women are most at risk for perinatal depression. When you are worried about how you are going to pay your bills and feed your child, you have little time to think about your mental well-being. So I wanted to shine a light on this condition, to ask women to seek help, and for mental health professionals to step up. We have got to stop shaming each other into thinking that mental health issues should paralyze you for the rest of your life. It does not need to be this way. I wrote more about my experience with postpartum depression for the Los Angeles Daily News. You can read the article in its entirety by clicking here.