Abortion stigmas often get in the way of providing compassionate, safe spaces for healing.

Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe, a licensed mental health therapist and social worker, released the following statement at the end of National Mental Health Awareness Month:

President Joe Biden launched National Mental Health Awareness Month with a reminder that “we all have a role to play in ending the stigma around mental health.” For those without mental health challenges, he correctly said their role “starts by showing compassion, so everyone feels free to ask for help.”

America has come a long way on mental health since the first Awareness Month in 1949. Unfortunately, some mental health challenges are still stigmatized, which is why the estimated 22 million Americans who struggle after abortion are often ignored because abortion is portrayed as a political or religious debate.

Support After Abortion’s research shows that 34% of women who experience a medication abortion and 71% of men whose partners or ex-partners experienced any abortion suffer adverse impacts. And over 80% of women and men have no idea where to look for emotional and psychological support. It’s no wonder that they often suffer for years in silence.

Our After Abortion Help Line and After Abortion Referral Directory were created to be a pathway to improved mental health. Our therapist, counselor, and other referral partners focus on the humans in front of them, using best practices from the Academy of Certified Social Workers, Support After Abortion’s research, and other resources.

For almost 20 years, I’ve worked with underserved communities facing mental health crises. I first helped teenage girls and their families; then girls and women escaping sex trafficking, and women facing unintended pregnancies. Today, I work with women and men who are facing emotional and psychological challenges after one or more abortions.

Each of these people deserves compassion for their struggles and the freedom to ask for help, even if it challenges the rest of us to go outside of our comfort zone.