The Courage to Act: Sonia Murdock

April 20, 2009

From 2009 – 2011, Our Bodies Ourselves honored the work of women’s health advocates worldwide by asking readers to nominate their favorite women’s health hero. View all nominees by year: 2009, 2010, 2011

Entrant: Linda Lisi Juergens

Nominee: Sonia Murdock, Co-Founder, Postpartum Resource Center of New York

Sonia Murdock co-founded the Postpartum Resource Center of New York and currently serves as its executive director.

She began her involvement in this issue when her sister needed her help after suffering a postpartum psychosis after the birth of her daughter. Sonia was willing to sacrifice her career aspirations, “made do” without her car, and put the health and well-being of scores of women who were unknown to her ahead of herself. She has worked tirelessly to affect change and offer very needed services and referrals to women and families affected by this critical mental health issue.

Sonia realized how few resources there were for women suffering from postpartum mood disorders, and how many professionals and para-professionals don’t know enough about these disorders or how to recognize the symptoms.

Scores of women have been helped with support and referrals at the Resource Center, and Sonia is tireless in getting the message out about these disorders and raising people’s consciousness so they know what to look for. She has done many speaking engagements to educate and raise people’s awareness of these issues due to a renewed public interest in the subject in the wake of the Andrea Yates situation.

She’s been featured on MSNBC, the Rikki Lake Show, Telecare’s God Squad, New York Daily News, and the Washington Post.  Sonia has also spoken to legislators about things that could be implemented to reduce negative outcomes.

With Sonia’s help, the Postpartum Resource Center of NY was also involved in a model Maternal Depression Outreach Project, along with other agencies (namely, LI’s United Way Success By Six, the National Association of Mothers’ Centers, the National Center of the Parent-Child Home Program and the Marks Family Right From the Start 0 – 3 Center of North Shore Child & Family Guidance) to offer a conference on these issues and to provide support groups for affected women.

She’s done training to teach professionals and para-professionals to recognize symptoms and find appropriate referrals for their patients and clients. Besides impacting on the suffering of countless women who are experiencing a range of postpartum mood disorders, Sonia’s efforts also help those children whose mothers are affected and other family members struggling to deal with this illness.

This year the Postpartum Resource Center of NY was the recipient of Postpartum Support International’s Jane Honikman Award as a model postpartum parent support network. Sonia’s work impacts on the health and safety of women and their children, as well as their quality of life. Sonia’s work saves lives every day.

The Resource Center she helped found received Postpartum Support International’s (PSI) Award as a model support network and Sonia herself eventually served as Board Member and President of PSI. What makes Sonia extraordinary is that she left her job to assist her sister with the care of her newborn and has personally sacrificed in a similar fashion to make the Postpartum Resource Center a reality.

She’s worked tirelessly, for long periods without pay, and continues to “make ends meet” with small grants and many volunteers. She eats, lives and breathes these issues and is always attempting to raise people’s consciousness about the prevalence of these disorders and the lack of understanding and lack of resources.

“The courage to act. The conscience to care. The character to do what is right.”  That’s what Sonia exemplifies.

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