In today’s modern workplace, the importance of caring for employees' mental health goes beyond wellness programs.
The intersection of reproductive health and mental well-being is an area that should not be overlooked.
In honor of World Mental Health Day, we delve into how fertility, pregnancy, menopause, and transgender health issues are intricately tied to mental health. We also provide resources on how Stork Club can help you support employee well-being in each of these areas.
The fertility journey can be isolating
Experiencing infertility or difficulties in starting a family can lead individuals to feel as though they are falling short of their own expectations. Treatments can be stressful, physically demanding, time-consuming, and expensive. It is also isolating since it is still a taboo topic many want to avoid.
Nearly 2 in 3 women report feeling overwhelmed by their fertility journey. More than half of respondents in an Oxford study said their fertility journey has made them feel depressed and/or anxious.
Some studies have even shown that biochemicals such as cortisol, which rises as a result of stress and depression, may play a part in infertility by interfering with ovulation and the hormones that support pregnancy.
Care Navigators can be a lifeline:
Managing a career and fertility solutions can be overwhelming. Almost two-thirds of people have not been offered fertility counseling or support by their workplace. A supportive resource like Stork Club’s Care Navigators can be a lifeline.
- Care Navigators can hold a member’s hand throughout their journey, provide personalized one-on-one support, and offer unlimited messaging and video calls.
- Care Navigators are trained in reproductive healthcare and are certified in mental health training through the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. In addition, we have a number of other mental health coaches in our virtual expert program that can provide emotional support and advice.
Depression during and after pregnancy can harm mother and baby
Depression during pregnancy can be risky to the pregnant person and baby and increases the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Babies also may be more irritable, less active, less attentive, and have issues with learning, behavior, and mental health later in life.
It also increases the risk of postpartum depression (PPD). PPD is the most common complication for women who have just had a baby, affecting 1 in 7 women. PPD is more serious and lasts longer than the baby blues, which can happen 2 to 35 days after birth and can last up to 2 weeks. Individuals may have trouble sleeping, be moody or cranky, and cry a lot.
PPD can last up to a year and symptoms are often more severe. They can include extreme stress, having difficulty bonding with the baby, and thoughts of harming the baby.
Birth doulas provide support before, during, and after birth
Many times individuals may be reluctant to admit they are having challenges. A caring individual who is aware of the signs and symptoms, such as a birth doula, can often spot signs and help the person seek mental health support.
In addition to our Care Navigators, who are always available to members, Stork Club offers a birth doula program. The doula can spot signs of depression and PPD and refer the member as needed to mental health support.
- These non-medical caregivers provide support to pregnant individuals before, during, and after the birth of a child.
- Doulas and the pregnant person talk as much as they want via phone, text, or email throughout the pregnancy and also meet in person.
- Following birth, the doula provides information and coaching on infant feeding, and, and physical recovery.
More women than ever are experiencing menopausal depression
The risk of depression during perimenopause is 2 - 5 times greater than before or after menopause. According to a recent study, the percentage of women experiencing moderate depression from menopausal symptoms is higher than ever, with 59.3% reporting symptoms in 2021 compared to 36.3% in 2006. Women in the recent study reported loss of confidence, guilt, tendency to cry, suicidal ideation, and attention deficit at greater numbers.
Depression can also be a risk factor for physical ailments, and Black older women are particularly at risk. In the 25-year Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, Black women had higher rates of depressive symptoms compared to White women during the menopause transition. This higher rate of depression was linked to an increased risk of diabetes in Black women.
Someone who understands what they are going through
One of the reasons people struggle during menopause is because they often feel as if there is no one to talk to about how they are feeling. With Stork Club, individuals have unlimited access to Care Navigators with specialized mental health coaching who also have expertise in hormone replacement therapy, perimenopause, and postmenopausal symptoms.
Stigma and discrimination lead to mental health issues for transgender individuals
Transgender and nonbinary individuals often experience identity-based harassment, discrimination, violence, and stigma that can contribute to mental health and suicide risk.
More than 50% of transgender and nonbinary individuals are at risk for depression. It is estimated that 40% of transgender and nonbinary adults have attempted suicide and 63% say they have experienced stigma in their lifetime. Stigma can vary from discriminatory policies, employment discrimination, refusal of healthcare services, verbal harassment, physical assault, and intimate partner violence.
Gender affirmation, through social (e.g., name, pronoun, and gender expression changes, gender identity disclosure) and medical (e.g., hormones, surgery) processes has been shown to lower levels of depression and improve self-esteem.
In a review of studies, 78% of individuals reported significant improvement in psychological symptoms and 80% reported significant improvement in quality of life following hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgeries.
Gender-affirming care that respects a person’s choices
It can be hard for transgender and nonbinary individuals to find respectful care or even a clinic or doctor who understands their needs. At Stork Club, we always respect an individual’s gender identity, pronouns, name, and gender expression, and put wellness first for all individuals.
- Stork Club offers personalized gender-affirming care through our partnership with transgender and nonbinary healthcare specialist Plume from mental health support to gender-affirming hormone treatment.
To learn more about how any of these options can support your employees’ reproductive and mental health, sign up to view a demo.