Struggling New Mom? There’s Help!

Caring for a new baby isn’t easy. If you’re a struggling new mom, it’s important to know you’re not alone and it’s OK to get mental health and substance use disorder help. Learn how.

The first several months with your new baby may be among your most challenging. And, as a struggling new mom, you may be one of 23,000 Michigan women to experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. 

That estimate is low because many women experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders go undetected, says Katherine McCloskey, program leader at Clearview, a women’s specialty program at Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center in Richmond.

Substance use disorder occurs among 10% of these new moms and Michigan trends about 5% higher than the national average, possibly due to higher rates of seasonal affective disorder and the barriers to services that living in a rural area can often create. 

A new study by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services found that between 2016 and 2020, 30% of pregnancy-associated deaths were due to substance use disorder and 5% were due to suicide. Women with untreated co-occurring substance use disorder, a history of postpartum depression, trauma or mental health conditions are at higher risk for substance use disorder.

“We have been trying to combat stigma in mental health forever. Certainly for postpartum, it can figure prominently,” McCloskey says. “You have a newborn baby and wonder what can be wrong with you?”

Resources exist to help struggling new moms

For new moms with substance use disorder, there are supportive programs that can help. 

Clearview is a residential program that allows women from any area of Michigan to bring their child with them to treatment. “If a parent needs treatment and doesn’t have a caregiver for their child, they can bring them here. We work hard to keep that connection with the parent and the child,” McCloskey explains.

Because mental health conditions and substance use disorder often co-occur, Clearview recognizes the need for holistic treatment to help new moms get well. They also provide transportation and ongoing support when clients return home, including medical and dental care, help finding supportive housing and children’s services.

“Linking clients with services that may have had barriers is important so they get the support they need. We work with community programs and they can meet with our clients here and continue working with them until their child is 1-2 years of age,” says McCloskey. Even before their babies are born, clients can benefit from programs like Hopeful Hearts, a judgment-free program to support pregnant women and new mothers with substance use disorder.

Every resource is designed to help increase what McCloskey calls “engagement and commitment,” or the continuation of care often needed for successful recovery.

You’re not alone — there are programs to help

Anyone can experience mental health and substance use disorders, especially with the challenges of caring for a newborn. It’s important to remove stigma and other barriers to clear the path for help. There are supportive programs designed specifically for pregnant women and new mothers, and you are not alone. 

“There are many people who are experiencing this and it’s OK to ask for help,” says McCloskey.

Get started by reaching out to your community mental health resource, such as Oakland Community Health Network. Call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 24/7 at 988. Or, to find the best place to start, call OCHN Access at 248-464-6363.

OCHN is contracted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to manage and fund a service provider network for approximately 29,000 Oakland County residents at more than 400 service sites across the county. People who receive public behavioral health services through OCHN’s provider network include those who have an intellectual or developmental disability, mental health concerns or substance use disorder. Most of these individuals have Medicaid insurance coverage. 

OCHN’s goal is to ensure these individuals are aware of and have access to services and supports that will improve their health and quality of life, as well as ensure their engagement in full community participation. Its mission to “inspire hope, empower people, and strengthen communities” reflects an unyielding belief in a “Valuable System for Valued People.” 

Programs and supports provided by OCHN’s service network are available at oaklandchn.org.

Claire Charlton
Claire Charlton
An enthusiastic storyteller, Claire Charlton focuses on delivering top client service as a content editor for Metro Parent. In her 20+ years of experience, she has written extensively on a variety of topics and is keen on new tech and podcast hosting. Claire has two grown kids and loves to read, run, camp, cycle and travel.

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