CHICAGO (CBS) — On Mother’s Day, a new line of support is available for new and expecting mothers. With an initial $3 million investment, the Department of Health and Human Services launched a maternal mental health hotline, which provides confidential counseling to moms experiencing mental health challenges.
Sixteen years ago Linda Szmulewitz and her husband became parents. Living in New York City at the time, Szmulewitz found herself stunned by how hard it was to be a mom.
“I remember walking down the street and seeing thousands of people walking by me and thinking to myself, ‘Nobody knows what this is like. Everybody’s life is easier than mine. What was I thinking?” she said.
Szmulewitz said her lifeline came in the form of her neighbor, another new mom, who told her about a new moms group at the local Y.
“I remember hearing that they were also up in the middle of the night, that they also felt alone and isolated and there was so much relief that came from that experience,” she said.
It was critical information she knew she needed to share and critical community she knew she needed to create, so after having her son and moving to Chicago, she launched The Chicago New Moms Group in 2011.
“We’re not meant to live in our individual silos as I think of it so there’s just so much isolation and as a result, nobody’s getting the kind of support they need,” she said.
The Chicago New Moms Group is all about connecting new moms to each other and to services they may need during this transition. But Szmulewitz said there is something to be said about speaking to someone you don’t know – this new hotline is something she said she probably could’ve used herself.
“I was never formally diagnosed with postpartum depression,but I think if I had known more, if I had known what I know today, I probably would’ve reached out for more support,” she said.
Today, Szmulewitz says there is a lot of help out there, but you have to know where to find it — and be willing to accept it.
“There’s a lot of shame about needing help, but also not realizing that we’re not meant to do this job alone,” she said.
The Chicago New Moms Group offers six-week programs for first time moms and four-week programs for second time moms.