Becoming a parent or caregiver is a life-changing experience that can be filled with equal amounts of excitement, joy, love, fear, anxiety, and sadness. We know from research that a strong emphasis is placed on healthy child development and well-being, particularly in the 0-5 stage. But what about the well-being of parents and caregivers?
Parental mental health is not often widely discussed – but it should be. Taking care of yourself emotionally is vital to your ability to be the best parent possible for your children. (First 5 California)
Both women and men can experience perinatal mental illness, which includes a range of disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis, that occur during pregnancy and the first year postpartum. Untreated perinatal mental illness is an adverse childhood experience (ACE) that can have significant impact on a child’s development and impact health throughout the life course. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Recent CDC research shows that about 1 in 8 women experience symptoms of maternal postpartum depression, while a 2010 study found 1 in 10 men experience paternal postpartum depression. (Paulson, J.F. & Bazemore, S.D., 2010)
In the US, approximately 20-25% of women are diagnosed with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD). The impact of PMADs reaches far beyond the expectant or new mother—to fathers, partners, grandparents, siblings, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. (Postpartum Support Center)
By ensuring mothers and fathers have access to quality perinatal mental health resources and support, you can reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. This post is designed to help providers and parents better understand perinatal mental illness and what resources are available for support. It’s also important to acknowledge that caring for your mental health is a lifelong commitment, so we’ve included tools and resources to promote parent and caregiver mental well-being at all stages of parenthood.
Resources to Support Parent & Caregiver Mental Health
California Training Institute (CalTrin)
Hey, that’s us! Access recordings and materials from prior CalTrin trainings on perinatal mental health, keep an eye on the calendar for upcoming webinars and workshops, and explore our relevant resource collections:
- Training Archive – Revisit recordings and materials from prior CalTrin trainings:
- Paternal Perinatal Mental Health: The Changing Face of New Fatherhood – this training will be offered again on September 29, 2023
- Concealed but Common: Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders and How We Can Bridge the Gap
- Relevant CalTrin Blogs
Note: You will need to log in to your CalTrin account to access the self-paced courses and select archived training materials. You can create a free account here.
California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC)
Visit our partner project’s Mental Health topic area to learn about evidence-based programs and interventions, including:
American Hospital Association (AHA)
The AHA is the national organization that represents and serves all types of hospitals, healthcare networks, and their patients and communities. Learn more about AHA’s Better Health for Mothers and Babies initiative, which is designed to provide information, resources, and best practices to better support hospitals in addressing maternal mental health.
- Maternal Mental Health
- Better Health for Mothers and Babies Initiative
- Making Maternal Mental Health a Priority
- Prioritizing the Mental Health of Mothers and Families (PDF Download)
- Supporting Black Women’s Maternal Mental Health Journey
California Department of Public Health (CDPH)
SCDPH’s Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Division (MCAH) believes all mothers, parents, babies, and families deserve to live their best lives. Explore their maternal mental health resources, including downloadable materials to share with mothers, parents, and families in your community:
- Maternal Mental Health Topic
- Feeling Anxious or Depressed?
- Maternal Suicide Prevention Fact Sheet (multiple languages available)
- Data Brief Maternal and Child Health Assessment: Symptoms of depression during and after pregnancy
The Center for Men’s Excellence
Based in San Diego, CA, therapists from The Center for Men’s Excellence work with clients who seek to improve their quality of life with effective, evidence-based therapy modalities. Founder Dr. Dan Singley has facilitated trainings on father engagement and paternal mental health for CalTrin—view them in our Training Archive!
- Expectant Dad’s Class (In-Person and Virtual)
- Parenting Resources for Mom and Dad
- LISTEN: Knowledge Nuggets
Child Welfare Information Gateway
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a parent/caregiver’s mental health disorder can be a risk factor for child maltreatment. Depression, low self-esteem, poor impulse control, anxiety, and antisocial behavior are linked to a heightened potential for child abuse and neglect, as these factors can compromise parenting. Explore the Child Welfare Information Gateway’s Mental Health of Parents and Caregivers topic for information and resources related to co-occurring mental health issues and child maltreatment. Learn more.
First 5 California
First 5 California is dedicated to supporting California’s children prenatal through age 5 and their families. Explore resources related to parental mental health, including:
- Parental Mental & Emotional Health (Salud mental y emocional)
- Ways to Cope with Parent Guilt (Maneras de lidiar con la culpabilidad de padres)
- Support for Parents Who Have Experienced Childhood Trauma (Apoyo para padres que han sufrido trauma infantil)
- Taking Care of Yourself – Wellness (Autocuidado y bienestar)
Head Start │ ECLKC
Head Start and Early Head Start programs support the mental health of children, families, and staff every day. Check out these resources aimed at parents and caregivers:
Maternal Mental Health NOW
Maternal Mental Health NOW takes a systems-change approach to improve the system of perinatal mental health care experienced by new and growing families in Los Angeles and beyond.
Mental Health America (MHA)
MHA’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal. Explore their comprehensive Mental Health Resources for Parents library, including:
- General Parenting Mental Health
- Maternal Mental Health
- Pregnancy & Postpartum/New Parent
- Pregnancy and Postpartum Disorders
- Mental Health and the New Father
- Mental Health and the Single Parent
- Caregiving and the Sandwich Generation
- Parenting with a Mental Health Condition
National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI)
NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Explore these resources aimed at addressing the mental health needs of parents and caregivers:
Visit NAMI California for additional resources.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
NIH’s National Child & Maternal Health Education Program (NCMHEP) provides a forum for reviewing, translating, and disseminating new research in the field of maternal and child health. Resources are available in English and Spanish.
- Moms’ Mental Health Matters (La salud mental de las mamás es muy importante)
- Moms-to-be and Moms (Información para las mamás y las futuras mamas)
- Emotional Wellness Toolkit (Sus sentimientos)
- Caring for Your Mental Health (Disponible en español)
- Perinatal Depression(Depresión perinatal)
National Perinatal Association
The National Perinatal Association promotes evidence-based practices in perinatal care. Explore NPA’s Perinatal Mental Health page, which includes a Mental Health Plan Template and the following tools for mental and emotional well-being:
Postpartum Support Center
The Postpartum Support Center provides a comprehensive support system and safe place for mothers/parents and families in need and promotes awareness and prevention of Perinatal Mental Health Disorders.
Postpartum Support International (PSI)
Headquartered in Oregon, Postpartum Support International has many resources to help families, providers, and communities learn about the emotional and mental health of childbearing families. Resources include toolkits, awareness posters, educational videos and materials, guidebooks, group coaching support, and more. View all.
Additionally, PSI’s website features resources designed for specific groups. Get help for:
- Partners & Families
- Queer & Trans Parents
- Military Families
- Postpartum Psychosis
- Loss & Grief
- Adoptive and Birth Mothers
- Intensive Treatment in the US
Take Action for Mental Health
As part of California’s ongoing mental health movement, the Take Action for Mental Health campaign is designed to help you check in, learn more, and get support for your own mental health or the mental health of someone you care about. Resources are available in English and Spanish.
- Health Novela (Una novela que trata de la salud)
- This guide is for parents and children to explore together to better understand mental health and wellness for their family and community.
- Mental Health Self-Care Tips (Consejos para el auto cuidado de la salud mental)
- Your Mental Health Cheat Sheet (Tu targeta de referencia para la salud mental)
Free & Confidential Support
- National Maternal Mental Health Hotline is a confidential, toll-free hotline for expecting and new moms experiencing mental health challenges. The Hotline provides 24/7 free support via voice and text in English and Spanish (and 60 additional languages via interpreter services). Call or text 1-833-852-6262 (1-833-TLC-MAMA).
- Postpartum Support International Hotline provides information, encouragement, and names of resources near you. Call or text 800-944-4773; Text en Español: 971-203-7773.
- California Parent & Youth Helpline provides trained counselors who share self-calming and mindfulness techniques, help people build support systems, and connect them to weekly free online Parents Anonymous groups and other services. Parents and youth can call or text 1-855-427-2736; chat is available online. Support is available in English, Spanish, and other languages daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential support for people in distress. Call or text 988. Prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline provides 24-hour free and confidential treatment referrals and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, and recovery in English and Spanish. Dial 1-800-662-HELP.
- Visit SAMHSA’s Find Help and Treatment page for additional resources. Assistance is available in multiple languages.
- Veterans Crisis Line is comprised of caring, qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves. Dial 988, then press 1. Text 838255.
**Don’t be afraid to ask for help!**