Walk raises awareness for reproductive mental health access

Mitch MacDonald comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on June 22, 2014

Lisa Carmody Doiron has experienced the difficult task of trying to find professional advice on dealing with postpartum depression.

That’s why she and many other Prince Edward Island women participated in a walk Saturday to raise awareness on the few resources and lack of access surrounding reproductive mental health.

The “Climb Out of the Darkness Walk” was held for the first time on P.E.I., with the goal of eventually having access for all pregnant women and new mothers suffering from anxiety disorders.

“Not just women who can afford a counselor or who feels open enough to talk about it but for every woman from tip-to-tip,” said Carmody Doiron during the walk. “(Every woman needs) access to the right kind of reproductive mental health specialists to get through those really, really complex issues.”

A group of more than 50 walked from Connaught Square on Pownal Street to Victoria Park and back with placards raising the issue.

The day coincided internationally with the Climb Out of the Darkness Walk, which assists the non-profit group Postpartum Progress.

The group supports pregnant women and new mothers suffering from anxiety disorders, as well as those who’ve experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.

In addition to many mothers and their children, the walk also saw a number of friends and husbands participate.

Carolyn Dawe-Jenkins said that widespread participation was important for the group, with postpartum depression not just affecting mothers but also many of the individuals around them.

“It’s not just her alone…  and by talking more about it and bringing it more to the public’s attention, it might just be helpful for that one person that’s stuck in a rut or deep within the throws of postpartum depression but doesn’t feel comfortable coming forward and saying ‘look I really need some help’,” said Dawe-Jenkins.

The walk wasn’t the first time a lack of access to reproductive mental health resources has been brought up in the province.

Earlier this spring, a group comprised of 11 Island women met with Health Minister Doug Currie as well as some health care professionals on the issue.

That meeting was set up through independent MLA Olive Crane.

Elizabeth Gallant noted that while this is the first year for the walk on P.E.I., the group is hoping to keep the issue in the spotlight.

“We want it bigger and stronger every year.”