Britney's conservatorship is terrifying for mothers like me who suffer with their mental health 5 months ago

Britney's conservatorship is terrifying for mothers like me who suffer with their mental health

Do you feel that there is still a stigma regarding mental health?

When I found out in 2012 that I had postnatal depression I knew I should have told someone, but I didn't.

I had the same fear that a lot of mothers dealing with mental health issues have, that if I told anyone I was struggling they would say I was an unfit mother and possibly even take my child away from me.

While you might say 'that wouldn't happen in this day and age', the fear that many women have is that if it happened to someone like Britney, it could happen to them.

While we've been hearing about the #FreeBritney movement for years now, it's only really now that we know the full extent of limitations that Spears has been dealing with.

The most shocking of all being that she has an IUD that she is not allowed to remove that is preventing her from having any more children. Spears is also only entitled under her current restrictions to 30 percent unsupervised rights to her two sons.

All of this because the constant pressure she was under caused her mental health to suffer and now, even years later while getting professional help, Spears still does not have the right to be a mother in the way that she wants to be.

What message does this send out to other mothers also struggling with their mental health?

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In 2014, during a seminar on mental health, Barnardos found that many mothers were afraid to seek help because they felt their children might be removed from their care.

Agnes Higgins, professor in Mental Health at Trinity College Dublin said mental health issues in women encompassed fear of a loss of custody of children and negative attitudes of professionals towards them as mothers.

She also went on to say that that there are more mothers dealing with mental health issues than people realise, but that this does not mean these mothers are unfit: "Women with mental health problems are mothering children around the country every week and doing a really great job."

So what can be done to help improve mental health supports for mothers while also fighting the stigma that comes with dealing with issues like depression?

Earlier this year it was announced that there are plans underway to open Ireland's first mother and baby mental health unit at St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin.

The unit will specialise in helping women experiencing severe mental health difficulties during pregnancy or after the birth of their child, while also allowing their baby to remain with them during treatment.

A unit like this could drastically change how we treat mothers suffering with depression and personally I think there should be a service like this available at all maternity hospitals, especially for women dealing with postpartum depression.

In 2021, mothers should not feel the need to hide their mental health concerns for fear of judgement and if we are to take anything away from the Britney Spears hearing is that a cry for help is not a cry to be caged or punished.

A mother coming forward and admitting she's struggling is doing so in the best interest or herself and her children, and there should never be any fear that her need for help would cause her to lose her children.