Support group helps Tampa mothers with depression, anxiety disorders

TAMPA, FL. — Pregnancy and a new baby bring a range of emotions, which can include feeling overwhelmed, sad or anxious. The feelings are common; One in seven women experiences depression or anxiety after having a baby.

After two Tampa Bay area mothers, Rebecca Hartley-Woods and Elizabeth Good, experienced postpartum depression, and struggled to find the help they needed, they started a The Seventh Mom Project, Inc., a grassroots, non-profit 501c3 organization to support the mental health of mothers.

The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. began in 2015 as on online support group, and has grown to four monthly peer-to-peer support groups in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

“We’re talking about feelings of depression – sadness, insomnia, irritability, anxiousness, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder,” Good said.

The peer-to-peer support groups include women like Kelly McKinley-Ford, who struggled with anxiety after she had trouble breastfeeding.

“I was worried about my son getting enough food, whether I starved him for the first five days, what was this doing to him,” she said. “I felt like I was the only one having the problems I was having.”

For Cat Halek, depression set in after she stopped breastfeeding.

“My hormones took a nose dive, and I’m very sensitive to hormones,” Halek said. “Honestly, that was one of the loneliest times for me.”

The Seventh Mom Project Inc.’s mom-to-mom support group meetings (SAMMI) aren’t group-therapy sessions. Participants are able to share information on coping techniques and tools that have helped them along with success stories and encouragement.

“It’s okay that your kid didn’t go to bed at 7:30 p.m. wearing fancy pajamas. It’s okay that you fed them Cheetos for breakfast. We’re all trying to do the best thing for our children,” Good said.

The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. also connects mothers with mental health resources, and provides training about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders to professionals

“You’re not going to be the best mom you can be if you’re not taking care of yourself,” Hartley-Woods said. “Mental health is health. If you’re not emotionally, mentally, spiritually well, you’re not going to be well.”

The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. Is looking for active board members, and is participating in the upcoming Give Day Tampa Bay. You can learn more about the non-profit, its mission and its support groups at this link.

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