Breaking the Silence

Website for the American Mental Health Counselors Association's Breaking the Silence initiative to address mental health stigma.


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Mothers—Why we are all here today

By contributing author Suzanne L. Walker

Recently I met someone who reminded me of my mother. My mom died in 2001 and this year marks the 6th Mother’s Day without her. I still miss her terribly. When my mom died, my best friend told me, “You’re an orphan now.” It didn’t strike me what she meant until I began the grieving process. Then the notion hit me really hard. Living life without your mom is really hard.

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A Perfect Storm: Biological, Behavioral, Social and Environmental Factors Affecting Women’s Mental Health

By contributing blogger Joel E. Miller

Whether you call them individual cells in meteorological terms or clusters in a mathematical context, it is clear – based on new research from different disciplines – that women are facing a perfect storm of factors and issues that significantly raise the risk of developing mental illnesses, especially depressive and anxiety disorders.

New research and studies also highlight that there are critical high risk periods during a women’s life where mental health disorders are more likely to occur.

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Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Wage Gaps and the Increased Depression and Anxiety in Women

By contributing blogger Joel E. Miller

The discussion around income disparity in the presidential primary races has taken on a new twist – one’s health, and in particular, one’s mental health.

We have known through several studies conducted over the last two decades that a significant motherhood penalty exists on wages and evaluations of workplace performance and competence. Even after statistically controlling for education, work experience, race, whether an individual works full- or part-time, and on a broad range of other human capital and occupational variables.

One Stanford University research study even sent out more than 1,200 fictitious résumés to employers in a large Northeastern city, and found that women applicants with children were significantly less likely to get hired and if hired would be paid a lower salary than male applicants with children. This all occurred despite the fact that the qualifications, workplace performances and other relevant characteristics of the fictitious job applicants were held constant and only their parental status varied.

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Addressing Intimate Partner Violence: A Public Health and Mental Health Imperative

By contributing blogger Joel E. Miller

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a multifaceted public health issue that has gained much attention, especially as the National Football League addresses some of its players’ violence charges.

The issue, of course, is not about football or football players. The bigger issue is that domestic violence affects one in every four women — according to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The group notes that 1.3 million women are victims of assault by an intimate partner each year; 85 percent of all domestic violence victims are women; and the women at greatest risk of non-fatal intimate partner violence are between 20 and 24 years of age.

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Mother and Child – and – Elderly Reunion: Childbirth, Maternity Leave and Depression in Older Women

By contributing blogger Joel E. Miller

From the paid parental leave one-upmanship by Silicon Valley companies to Democratic presidential candidates calling for guaranteed paid leave to Republicans arguing mandated paid leave could drive small businesses out of business, the issue is getting more attention in the United States. Currently, the U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarantee paid parental leave.

But what are the health benefits of paid parental leave on children, mothers and fathers? There is considerable evidence now that paid parental leave can have a significant positive effect on the health of children and mothers and can have major benefits down the road. There can be mental health effects of having job-protected, paid leave after the birth of a child. In one study, women who took longer than 12 weeks maternity leave reported fewer depressive symptoms, a reduction in severe depression and improvement in their overall mental health.

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Not All Mother’s Days Are Happy

By contributing blogger Joel E. Miller

A reminder this Mother’s Day that millions of women suffer with postpartum depression.

The birth of a child can be a joyous and exciting time. After childbirth, some women may experience postpartum depressive disorders that can adversely affect a woman’s mental health and their child.

Being a mom is hard. For some, the journey to becoming a mom is really hard too. Mothers commonly experience what is called “the baby blues,” mood swings that are the result of high hormonal fluctuations that occur during and immediately after childbirth. They may also experience more serious mental health disorders such as postpartum depression, birth-related post-traumatic stress disorder or a severe but rare condition called postpartum psychosis.

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