Most of us are tragically familiar with the story of Andrea Yates and her 5 young kids. In 1999, Ms. Yates was diagnosed and treated for postpartum depression after the birth of her fourth child. However, this treatment was not enough, for a mere 3 years later, 6 months after the birth of her fifth child, she drowned all 5 of her children in her own bathtub. Andrea Yates was charged not guilty on accounts of insanity, in particular postpartum psychosis.
Despite this tragic event, this proof that perinatal mental health is a present in our own state, the Texas Legislature is doing very little to address the growing needs of parents with mental health disorders, especially in terms of financial support for perinatal mental health care providers. We believe that by introducing honest experiences of parents with perinatal mental health disorders to the legislature, we can increase the funding they provide to these health care organizations.
We wish to gain more funding from the State of Texas legislative to not only expand the knowledge and advocacy but to help all those families who are affected by Perinatal mental health (PMH). After weeks of preparation and major decision making, the Metachicks final fell in love with a solution that would benefit all and hopefully bring an end to this issue. Our solution had to be something creative, artistic and especially something that could be presented to the legislative to show the enormity of the problem of perinatal mental health in the state of Texas.
When we were first assigned to help the Pregnancy and Postpartum Alliance of Texas, we had many ideas on how we wanted to help all the mothers who are affected by the huge issue of perinatal mental health in the state of Texas. After looking for inspiration and researching about PMH, the metachicks final settled down in a solution helpful for all: a quilt, inspired by the AIDS quilt. A quilt that will be displayed at the capital to show everyone in the Austin Texas and the legislative the lack of knowledge of PMH. The quilt will include drawings and knowledge people have on PMH.
Our solution consists of a quilt that contains 100 squares which are each 9 inches by 9 inches. This size will leave enough room for the participants to write/draw what mothers mental health means to them. The 100 squares represent the amount of participants we hope to have write their experiences on our quilt. The quilt will be a 4 different colored quilt, each color representing 4 different types of experience with perinatal mental health. The four different colors will represent being a PMH survivor who has experienced these disorders first hand, someone who has seen a friend or family member experience PMH, a health care provider for PMH, or an advocate for PMH. After each participant chooses the piece of fabric with the color that represents them best, they will have the opportunity to write or draw the knowledge and experiences they have on such a delicate issue.
The Mother’s Mental Health Conference will be taking place on the weekend of April 27-30, although our group will only be participating on Saturday, April 29. After the squares are all written upon, we will sew the quilt together and present the quilt at the Texas Capitol on the Saturday before Mother’s day, May 6th, which happens to fall on the same week of mental health awareness week.
We would like our quilt to convince the Texas legislature to provide funds for the entire amount needed by PMH health care organizations, which has not been done since 2007. Ultimately, this is one step in a very long fight for the rights of parents with perinatal mental health disorders. Therefore, the simple act of getting Texas lawmakers to acknowledge everything our quilt stands for, all the people it represents, is enough for us to consider our project a success, no matter the amount of funding we recieve.