Breaking the silence: Prioritizing maternal mental health

 In Opinion

by Ashley Schofield-McEachern

As a psychotherapist and nurse specializing in perinatal mental health and women’s wellness, I’ve had the honour of witnessing how the journey to motherhood can completely change a woman’s life. Alongside the joy and excitement, I’ve also seen the darkness that lingers in maternal experiences: the silent struggles, the unspoken fears, and the invisible load that moms carry.

May 1 marks World Maternal Mental Health Day, a time to raise awareness about the often-overlooked topic of maternal mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding it.

Motherhood is often portrayed as a time of blissful joy and unconditional love, but the reality is far more nuanced. Pregnancy, infertility, pregnancy loss, childbirth, and the postpartum period all bring a whirlwind of emotions and life changes. Every mother’s journey is unique, shaped by their individual circumstances, lived experiences, and support systems. Yet, amidst this diversity, there’s a common thread that connects mothers together: the need for compassionate understanding and holistic support for their mental wellbeing.

Did you know one in five women experience some type of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD)? And due to the pandemic, that number is estimated to be even higher. Perinatal mental health issues are one of the most common complications that occurs during pregnancy or the postpartum period. Symptoms can appear anytime during pregnancy and within the first 12 months after childbirth, regardless of age, culture, race, and income level. These symptoms often go unnoticed and untreated, leaving many moms to suffer alone. The good news? – It’s highly preventable and treatable.

Advocacy is the cornerstone of progress in maternal mental health care. As a passionate advocate for women’s wellness, I’ve dedicated myself to raising awareness, challenging stigma, and promoting equitable access to mental health resources for all women and mothers. The journey towards maternal wellbeing cannot be travelled alone; it requires a collective effort to break down systemic barriers, address social determinants of health, and prioritize mental health within our healthcare system. Every mother deserves timely access to comprehensive perinatal mental health care.

Participating in Flora’s Walk is one way to support maternal mental health advocacy. Flora’s Walk, named after a courageous mother named Flora who had postpartum psychosis, is an annual event that raises awareness and funds for maternal mental health initiatives. Who is Flora? Flora was a single mom by choice who lived in Toronto. Her lifelong dream was to become a mom. At 44 years old, after years of fertility treatments, she finally and happily became pregnant.

Due to undiagnosed and untreated postpartum psychosis, Flora tragically died by suicide in 2022, two months after her baby, Amber, was born. Suicide is one of the leading causes of maternal death in Canada.

By participating in Flora’s Walk, we honour the memory of Flora and resilience of all mothers by raising awareness to ensure all who need it have timely access to perinatal mental health services. Together, we walk in support of healing, hope, and empowerment for mothers across Simcoe County and around the world. I will be walking with The Women and Children’s Health Network as part of Team Barrie in support of a regional strategy for perinatal mental health. On May 29, I will join a group of stakeholders from across our region to strategize ways to increase access to perinatal care in our local communities.

I invite you to lend your support in various ways. You can make a difference by donating to organizations dedicated to maternal mental health, participating in awareness-raising events like Flora’s Walk, educating yourself about maternal mental health to better support the mothers in your life, or simply checking in on a new mom in your social network. Your actions, no matter how small, have the power to make a meaningful impact on the wellbeing of mothers and families everywhere.

On this upcoming World Maternal Mental Health Day, let us create a world where every mother feels empowered to seek support, where every healthcare provider is equipped to offer compassionate care, and where every community embraces mothers. As the saying goes, “It takes a village…”

Ashley Schofield-McEachern, RN, RP and Certified Perinatal Mental Health Professional, specializes in perinatal mental health and women’s wellness. She owns Whispering Pines Counselling & Wellness, a private practice in Creemore offeringpsychotherapy services dedicated to embracing every woman’s journey.

• To learn more about Flora’s Walk, visit:;

• For Postpartum Support International go to or call the PSI HelpLine: 1-800- 944-4773;

• If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text 9-8-8 to reach the Suicide Crisis Helpline available 24/7, call 9-1-1, or visit your nearest hospital emergency department;

• Local free resources include Collingwood Well Baby Clinic, EarlyON Child and Family Centres, and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

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