Page 50 - FOP May 2019 Magazine
P. 50

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mental Health and Wellness Support
Advice from professionals to promote better mental healthcare
                                                                                                              Law enforcement families and postpartum wellness
She looked up at the clock and felt relief knowing that he would be home in 20 minutes. He had texted that he and his partner had experienced a busy day.
When he opened the front door, all he heard was crying. He walked down the hall and saw the baby lying in the crib, upset. He picked up the little one and walked to the kitchen. His wife was sitting at the table, in tears, holding her head. “Is everything OK?” he asked. Exhausted and eager to put his feet up, he was hoping that she would say everything was under control.
Instead, she launched into a story about how the baby was not eating well and spitting up everywhere. She hadn’t gotten anything done all day. Could he please take over parenting duties?
Two exhausted parents; this is the unfortunate reality for most law enforcement families. The professional and personal drain takes its toll, impacting the spousal relationship as well as the physical and emotional health of both parents.
It’s a challenge for male and female officers to take time off from work to recharge. We need to ask law enforcement families how they are coping with the adjustment of a new baby in the home. For one in seven moms and one in 10 dads, the stress and symptoms go beyond just an adjustment; they become perinatal mood and anx- iety disorders. The medical community now recognizes that post- partum mood and anxiety disorders can be detected at any time during the pregnancy through the baby’s first year.
Designated as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, we are now screening and treating moms and dads for postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD and psychosis. Symptoms to watch for include:
• not being able to complete tasks
• unable to regain energy or focus • feeling overwhelmed
• racing thoughts
• disruptions in appetite or sleep • low motivation
• isolation from others
• excessive crying
• lack of pleasure in activities
• anger, restlessness, excessive worry, disturbing thoughts or
• thoughts of harming self or baby (requires immediate medi-
cal attention)
To learn more, visit Postpartum Support International at www. or call the HelpLine at 800-944-4773 (4PPD). There are in-person and online support groups, individual counseling, couples counseling, hospital programs and medica- tion treatment. You and your medical team can decide what is best
for you. You are not alone.
As an LEO wife, I understand the struggle to balance the call of
duty and family. We must work together to help LEO families man- age stress and achieve postpartum wellness.
May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness month. Visit the Illi- nois chapter of Postpartum Support International to learn about activities in your area.
Kathryn D. Gardner, LCPC, PMH-C, is a certified perinatal mental health specialist who works with women and families to cope be- fore, during and after pregnancy. Kathryn is chairman of the board for the Illinois chapter of Postpartum Support International. She is the proud wife of a Chicago Police Officer; they have two children. Contact Kathryn at
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