MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH:
BLACK WOMEN & BIRTHING PEOPLE
CONTRIBUTING FACTORS
Factors that increase the risk of MMH among Black women:
  • Systemic racism
  • Unemployment
  • Exposure to violence
  • Gaps in medical insurance
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • Lack of representation in the medical system
  • Higher risk of pregnancy and childbirth complications
  • Lack of access to high-quality medical and mental health care
SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age. SDOH affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes. Black people are disproportionately impacted by SDOH, which may include:
  • Safe housing, transportation, and neighborhoods
  • Racism, discrimination, and violence
  • Education, job opportunities, and income
  • Access to nutritious foods and physical activity opportunities
  • Language and literacy skills
BARRIERS FACED BY
BLACK BIRTHING PEOPLE

  • Systemic and interpersonal racism
  • Distrust of the healthcare system
  • Shame and stigma
  • Fear of child protective services
  • Logistical barriers, i.e. child care and transportation
  • Screening tools that are not culturally sensitive
STRATEGIES TO REMOVE THESE BARRIERS

  • Acknowledge the role of racism
  • Build long-term respectful relationships with community organizations and leaders
  • Embed diversity in maternal and mental health care
  • Recognize implicit bias
  • Provide proper social support
  • Create screenings that are designed for people of color
ADVOCACY AND POLICY OPPORTUNITIES
Black Maternal Health Week is sponsored by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance and offers opportunities to:
  • Expand the conversation about Black maternal health.
  • Amplify community-driven solutions.
  • Center the voices of Black people.
Black Maternal Mental Health Week is sponsored by the Shades of Blue Project and offers opportunities to:
  • Raise awareness and highlight disparities
  • Share stories and build communities
  • Break down cultural barriers in MMH
BLACK MATERNAL HEALTH MOMNIBUS ACT OF 2021
The MOMNIBUS consists of 12 pieces of federal legislation that address every dimension of maternal health. One provision -- The Moms Matter Act -- would provide funding to address MMH with a specific focus on racial and ethnic minority groups.
LEARN MORE FROM THESE
BLACK WOMEN-LED ORGANIZATIONS
RECOMMENDED READING
by esteemed clinical psychologist Dr. Inger Burnett-Zeigler of Northwestern University, praises the strength of Black women while exploring how racism, trauma, and adversity have led to deep emotional and physical pain which can lead to chronic health issues and intergenerational effects.
REFERENCES

ACOG Committee Opinion No. 757: Screening for perinatal depression (2018).

O'Hara and Wisner (2014). Perinatal Mental Illness: Definition, Description, and Aetiology.

Fawcett et al (2019). The Prevalence of Anxiety Disorders During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period.

UPMC Health beat (2020). Black Maternal Mental Health: The Challenges Facing Black Mothers.

Martin and Montagne (2017). Lost Mothers: Maternal Care and Preventable deaths.

Parker (2021). Reframing the Narrative: Black Maternal Mental Health and Culturally Meaningful Support for Wellness.

Taylor and Gamble (2017). Suffering in Silence: Mood Disorders Among Pregnant and Postpartum Women of Color.

Mathews et al (2021). Pathways to Equitable and Antiracist Maternal Mental Health Care: Insights From Black Women Stakeholders.

CLASP (2020). Advancing Racial Equity in Maternal Mental Health Policy.

Kozhimanill et al (2011). Racial and Ethnic Disparities in postpartum Depression Care Among Low-Income Women.

Feldman and Pattani (2019). Black Mothers Get Less Treatment for Postpartum Depression.
Reimagining the maternal mental health care landscape is essential to addressing the Black maternal health crisis.
-- Kay Matthews, Shades of Blue Project
Working with Policy Makers to Address Maternal Mental Health Conditions
Our vision is universal and equitable education, prevention, screening,
and treatment for maternal mental health conditions.