Postpartum depression is very common. Far more women suffer from mental crisis before and after the birth of their child than is usually supposed. About 100,000 mothers are affected in Germany every year. They are often struck hit by strong feelings of self-doubt and guilt because they are suddenly no longer able to cope with everyday life or develop a loving relationship with their baby. These women often withdraw, try to hide their condition and feelings and, despite being in the depths of despair, to keep up the façade of the perfect, happy mother. Many affected women spent weeks running from one doctor to the next before being properly diagnosed.
The Schatten & Licht association was founded as a nationwide non-profit making self-help organisation in Germany in 1996 by women who had been previous affected by peripartal mental disorders. It addresses the following peripartal (Greek peri = around or about, Latin partus = birth) problems: peripartal depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder and peripartal psychosis. The term “perinatal” or “postnatal” (Latin: natus = born) is used regularly in everyday language, but because it is the mothers rather than the children who are affected then “peripartal” is a more appropriate description.
Schatten & Licht has been a member of the Postpartum Support International (PSI) network since 1999, thereby integrating itself at the international level. PSI was founded in 1987 in Santa Barbara, California, with the aim of establishing a network of self-hep organisations from different countries. The USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and countries in Asia and Europe, have since joined the network.
Schatten & Licht is also a member of the German-speaking countries section of the Marcé Society that was founded 2002 to promote interdisciplinary co-operation among the widest range of occupational groups in the provision of care for women suffering from peripartal psychic disorders.
The association has set itself the following aims:
- to keep a contact list for affected women,
- to construct a nationwide network of advice and self-help groups in Germany,
- to compile a list of experts (psychiatrists, gynaecologists, psychologists, psychotherapists, midwives, obstetricians, lactation consultants, alternative practitioners, social education workers),
- to collect information about specialised mother and baby units,
- to develop a bibliography of specialist literature,
- to support scientific research on the subject matter,
- to stimulate the establishment of specialised mother and baby units,
- to undertake PR activities via lectures, further training and the media,
- to expose the burdensome myth of the ever perfect and happy mother,
- to break the taboo of postpartum difficulties,