Pressures to Breastfeed Can Harm Maternal Mental Health

Many mothers suffer from stress, shame, and guilt associated with breastfeeding.

Florence Leung of British Columbia, Canada went missing on October 25, 2016 while struggling with post-partum depression. Less than a month later, her family discovered that she had taken her own life, leaving behind a husband and infant son.

In an emotional public letter, Leung’s husband Kim Chen wrote an impassioned plea to new mothers asking them to seek help if they felt anxiety or depression. He also revealed that his wife’s difficulties with breastfeeding, and the resulting feelings of inadequacy, likely contributed to her condition. Urging women not to criticize themselves about an inability to breastfeed or a decision not to breastfeed, Chen wrote:  more

Hiding my mental illness from my Asian family almost killed me

The silent shame of having a mental illness in a Chinese family.

“Don’t you dare go back to that doctor,” my mother growled into the phone. “He’ll put ‘bipolar’ on your record and then you’ll never be able to get a job.”

I nodded into the receiver. “Okay.”

I never went back. Seven years later, I woke up in a psych ward.

Growing up, I thought I was emotionally healthy. I had a large Chinese family on my mother’s side (my father is white). We were a lively, loud, tight-knit group consisting of around 20 blood relatives and 3 million non-blood relatives. Everyone knew each other’s business. Distant family members inquired about school, commented on my weight, and asked if I had a boyfriend. The only time it was “quiet” was when the Mahjong table came out and the only noise you’d hear was the click-clacking of tiles.  more

How ‘Pill Shaming’ Hurts Those Who Take Medications for Mental Health

Earlier this month, musician Kanye West ranted about politics and slavery following the season premiere of NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

Among other elements of his speech, he told audience members that this was the “real” Kanye speaking and he was off his medication, a nod to his earlier revelation that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

“Public figures talking about their mental health issues can help bring awareness and combat stigma surrounding these common conditions,” said Dr. David Hu, medical director at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches in Florida.

“Some people with mental illness never seek treatment because they feel shame. Knowing that they are not alone, that someone they admire has mental illness too, can be a powerful motivator to seek the help they need,” he said.  more