A walk in downtown Whitehorse was organized in an effort to raise awareness and start a conversation around the mental health impacts on parents from conception to their children’s first birthday.
The May 4 walk was Whitehorse’s contribution to the first national fundraiser walkathon hosted by the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative coinciding with World Maternal Mental Health Day. It saw roughly 30 participants march down Main Street.
The nationwide event is being called Flora’s Walk for Perinatal Mental Health. It serves as a memorial to Flora Babakhani, a Toronto woman who died by suicide this January due to undiagnosed postpartum psychosis. She had given birth as a single mother by choice just over two months earlier following years of fertility treatments.
Organizers of the walk in Whitehorse say it served as a way to raise awareness and reduce stigma.
“It’s the kind of thing that people just think it’s going to be the best time of their lives. And even when people like really want to have the baby, they’re really excited about it, it can really take them by surprise. And so we’re just hoping to raise awareness and just let people know that they’re not alone. You’re not alone in having this experience. And there’s definitely resources,” said Emma Eaton, one of the organizers of the Whitehorse walk.
Eaton said that awareness and community building are both very important for those coping with perinatal mental health as it can be very isolating. She noted that the figure of roughly one in five new mothers struggling with mental health concerns has increased to one in three over the course of the pandemic. Perinatal mental health issues also affect about one in 10 new fathers.
The Pacific Post Partum Support Society has resources available at www.postpartum.org. They noted that the Yukon Government’s mental wellness and substance use services branch, the Canadian Mental Health Association Yukon and the Canada Suicide Prevention Service are all also available to help.
Jo Lukawitski, who helped organize the May 4 walk, also puts on a support group for mothers organized through Partners for Children Yukon.
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