POEM, Inc. (Perinatal Outreach and Encouragement for Moms) was founded in 2005 by three women, all survivors of postpartum depression (PPD) and sole leaders of a group known at the time as Depression After Delivery of Central Ohio (D.A.D.). In 1986, D.A.D. Ohio was founded in concert with the creation of the national D.A.D. support network. In 1987, then First Lady of Ohio, Dagmar Celeste, became involved stemming from her experience with PPD. From ensuing state funds, a statewide, multi-disciplinary professional advisory board, task force, and numerous support groups were created. After the change in leadership in 1991, state funding, involvement from healthcare professionals, and the support groups gradually disappeared. D.A.D. was run solely by the few volunteers who continued to distribute brochures, take calls in their homes, developed a website and facilitated support group meetings.
Following the Andrea Yates family tragedy in 2001, both awareness and fear of maternal mental illness began to grow. Many women who attended the group or called for telephone support were not only coping with the illness, but were often misled with the fear of being a danger to their children. A decision was made to create an organization to meet the needs of mothers and families desperate for support and information. As time and personal finances permitted, the women began training as the Ohio coordinators of Postpartum Support International (PSI), an all-volunteer organization that serves as the world’s leading authority on perinatal mental health. PSI education, combined with the knowledge of the significant gaps in services and awareness across Ohio, led the women to found the state’s only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established to provide support, information, and advocacy for mothers and families in Ohio at risk for or experiencing pregnancy and postpartum depression, adjustment difficulties, and other maternal mental health issues.
In 2013, POEM merged with Mental Health America of Franklin County (MHAFC) to further expand services and support programs. POEM continues all its programming under the umbrella of MHAFC.