Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. The campaign was originally started by the Mental Health Foundation in 2010, with the aim of creating as much dialogue as possible around mental health. The awareness week has covered various topics ranging from loneliness and altruism to sleep, depression, relationships and stress.
For us, Mental Health Week is also a time to encourage discussions around the links between infertility and mental health. According to the WHO, those affected by infertility suffer considerably more from depression, stress, and suicidal thoughts. Research recently published by the UK’s national fertility charity, the Fertility Network, found that out of those experiencing fertility struggles, 90% felt depressed, whilst 52% felt suicidal. The Miscarriage Association lists PTSD, clinical grief, and trauma as commonly reported mental health issues by those who have had miscarriage. And yet, like egg donation and infertility, mental health is still a relatively taboo topic.
This Mental Health Awareness Week is also a time to encourage people to talk about mental health, infertility, and egg donation, and work hand in hand to break the stigma around these topics. Often people may not know how mental health affects people who are struggling with infertility. Having honest conversations about these issues can make people feel that they are not alone and create a sense of community. Thanks to social media and online forums, support is becoming more accessible to those grappling with infertility and mental health . Last month, ABC News ran with a feature article on the touching phenomenal support that Instagram users give to each other through #ttccommunity. Whether it’s you or someone you know who is going through a fertility journey, it’s important to know where to get and lend support.
For all it’s worth, occasions like this are worthy of support and celebration, because none of these topics should be taboo, and they all can affect anyone at anytime. Lots of progress has been made to end the stigma, but the pressing question we should constantly ask remains: are we there yet?