A special series on African-American, Asian-American and Latin-American women with postpartum depression.

Mental Health in Color Initiative: Training Scholarships

mental health in color initiativeResearch shows people often feel more comfortable seeking help from someone who looks like them. We know that Black moms suffering from symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety face unique challenges. The Postpartum Progress mission includes ALL women and for that reason we have established strategic goals around addressing the very vulnerable women who are not being served by a discriminating system. Most recently we have created tools to empower women of color:

Being seen and heard without the roadblocks of judgment and bias are important in obtaining recovery for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Often the racial differences between client and provider can make an already difficult process even more difficult. All of these providers are also women, because we believe in the unique power and ability for women to help one another.

Postpartum Progress seeks to change the landscape of maternal mental health for women of color by investing in what they need to be well. We are allocating funds to give training scholarships to mental health providers of color who are interested in expanding their professional expertise into maternal mental health. We will provide $2500 each to 4 scholarship recipients to fund their continued education via any one of the specific training programs we’ve chosen. Those training programs include the Postpartum Stress Center’s 12-Hour Post Graduate Training, Postpartum Support International’s 2-day Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder Certificate Training and the Seleni Institute’s 2-day Maternal Mental Health Intensive. We do this with the sole expectation that funding the training of more mental health providers of color to become specialists in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders will improve the standard of care for everyone.

“We know there’s a massive shortage of mental health providers who are specialists in maternal mental health, but that shortage grows a hundredfold when it comes to providers of color. We want the mothers in our community to have access to the help they need, which is why we’re so pleased to be able to launch this scholarship program in 2016 to four Black mental health providers,” said Katherine Stone, founder and CEO of Postpartum Progress Inc. “As our operating budget grows, it’s our goal to be able to offer even more scholarships in the future and to extend them to providers serving marginalized Latinas, the Asian Pacific Islander community and more. And we would ask any entity willing to match our expenditure to join us in this program so that we can expand the number of people who can provide the best care for struggling mothers.”

If you are interested in being considered for Postpartum Progress’ Mental Health in Color 2016 scholarships, please make sure you meet all of the qualifications below. If so, please complete and submit this form by Tuesday, November 22nd. We will choose all of our applicants by December 12th. 

QUALIFICATIONS

  • You identify as a cis woman, femme, or trans woman
  • You identify as belonging to the Black/African Diaspora and are committed to the well-being of Black people living in the United States.
  • You are a licensed mental health professional or are a candidate for licensure in your state within the next 3 months.
  • You intend to work with women in their childbearing years and are interested in addressing health disparities for communities of color.
  • You have a working knowledge of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders or you are motivated to learn more about them, their impact and treat the women in your community who have them.

For more information or assistance with applying please contact Jasmine Banks at climbout@postpartumprogress.org

Connecting Black Moms with Black Mental Health Providers

Connecting Black Moms with Black Mental Health Providers

The Problem

Postpartum mood and anxiety disorder symptoms don’t discriminate against some of the most vulnerable groups in our society. The social and environmental inequalities leave Black mothers struggling with access to care, support, and kindness while also facing rhorrific systemic racial hurtles.

We know that Black women and women of color are less likely to be believed when they report symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. We also know that their symptoms are more likely to also be passed off as other illnesses. We find this unacceptable.

The Facts

The facts are that more women will suffer from postpartum depression and related illnesses this year than the combined number of new cases for men and women of tuberculosis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy. Of those women, around 25% are in low income areas and report symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety.

Black mothers tend to trend higher in the “low income” category because of the way systemic racism has impacted poverty. The racial and ethnic difference that peer-reviewed evidence shows us requires that we make changes to how Black women and women of color are receiving care.

Our Investment in a Solution

The evidence is troubling. The Postpartum Progress mission includes ALL women and for that reason we have established strategic goals around addressing the very vulnerable women who are not being served by a discriminating system.

Most recently we have created tools to empower women of color.

We created the Black/African New Mom Checklist.
We created the Hispanic New Mom Checklist.

In addition to these checklists, we have also compiled a list of 100 Black Providers as a resource for Black women. Being seen and heard without the roadblocks of judgement and bias are important in obtaining recovery for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Often the racial differences between client and provider can make an already difficult process even more difficult. All of these providers are also women, because we believe in the unique power and ability for women to help one another. Our hope is that this list provides another layer of support for Black women on their journey to recover from postpartum depression and anxiety.

Announcing Our Black/African Diaspora Checklist

Black/AfricanDiaspora Checklist

Women of color, particularly Black women and women of African descent are less likely to be screened for PPD and less likely to get treatment and receive follow-up care. Results show that it is more likely for treatment teams to attribute symptoms of Black and Latin women to other ailments and not PPD.

To make it plain, while many women are never screened, women of color are bypassed in the screening process even more so, and when they do display symptoms of PPD, other factors are often blamed. Black women and women of African descent are consistently not getting the help they really need. This reality means it is vital for women who are at risk for perinatal mood disorders to be strong self-advocates while we work to change the systems that marginalize them.

People facing diagnosis of mental illness face significant difficulties around the stigmatization of having a mental health condition. When we factor in minority statuses, especially multiple overlapping minority identities, the stigma becomes heavier and far more damaging. This is what it means when activists and experts reference that African American and Black women are at the greatest risk in the maternal mental health discussion.

We believe that not a single mother should suffer in isolation with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADS). Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders do not discriminate, but systems do. Our response to systems that seek to disenfranchise women of color is to provide a tool to increase the quality of care Black women receive. Our African/Black Diaspora Checklist was designed with Black women in mind.

Our checklist was developed with feedback from clinical experts and patient input in order to empower Black women who are seeking support around their experiences with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. The checklist is designed to:

  • Empower mothers to help themselves.
  • Facilitate conversations that can be difficult for mothers to start with their doctors and other care providers.
  • Reinforce the variety of recognized, evidence-based symptoms of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders to both mothers and clinicians.
  • Reinforce the variety of recognized, evidence-based risk factors of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders to both mothers and clinicians.
  • Help clinicians get a clearer picture of how to best assist their patients.

So what has changed?

We know that Black women and women of African descent experience a different range of symptoms and risk factors concerning PMADS. Additionally, Black women and women of African descent do not conceptualize their emotional experiences in the same way that other race and ethnic groups do. As a result, symptoms of depression may show up far more physical and less psychological.

Black and African women suffering with undiagnosed PMADS also have different environmental risk factors. Openly suffering from mental illness is something that is highly tabooed in the cultural relations of Black women (Schreiber et al). Among researchers of Black women’s experiences with depression, being strong repeatedly emerges as a key factor in their experiences (Beauboeuf-LaFontant, “You have to Show Strength” 35).

Clinicians and care providers must take into consideration the impact that race-based violence and oppression play in increasing the presentation of symptoms in Black women and women of African descent. Care providers who wish to provide quality care for Black women and women of African descent must be willing to change the lens to address the unique needs of this population.

As such, we’ve created the Black/African Diaspora New Mom Mental Health Checklist to help empower mothers of color speak directly to their clinicians. We hope it will help moms advocate for themselves and help clinicians recognize the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and Black/African women.

 
References:
Beauboeuf-LaFontant, Tamara. “You Have to Show Strength: An Exploration of Gender, Race, and Depression.” Gender & Society 21.1 (2007): 28-51. Web. 14 Jan. 2013.

Schreiber, Rita, Phyllis Noerager Stern, and Charmaine Wilson. “Being Strong: How Black West-Indian Canadian Women Manage Depression and Its Stigma.” Journal of Nursing Scholarship 32.1 (2000): 39-45. Web. 26 Feb. 2013

All Mothers Deserve Access to Affordable Postpartum Depression Treatment

[Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from a Warrior Mom who struggled to find access to affordable postpartum depression treatment. This is not okay, and it needs to change. -Jenna]

All Mothers Deserve Access to Affordable Postpartum Depression Treatment

The doctor noticed I was depressed immediately.

After the initial intake, she looked in my eyes and declared, “You’re depressed.”
“Yes,” I responded.

This wasn’t news to me. My daughter was five months old and I knew what I was experiencing. The doctor began to list a number of suggestions for things that might help. I had a response for every one.

“Can someone help you with the baby?”
“No, everyone works and no one has time.”

“Could you take her to daycare?”
“No, I am breastfeeding her on demand, don’t like pumping/she won’t take a bottle, and we can’t afford it.”

Finally the doctor concluded the meeting with, “Well, there has to be something you can do,” without offering any more suggestions.

I guess that’s not fair. She did offer suggestions: a weekly massage and acupuncture routine that could be done in her office. The total cost of said treatment would be more than I could afford. I thanked her and left the office. A couple of months later I got a $400 bill for my visit.

Then there was the therapist I saw who was referred to me by another Warrior Mom. This therapist was supposed to be one of the best in the city for helping moms through postpartum depression. I saw her two or three times, but each visit cost around 275 dollars. She did not take insurance, which is something I kept coming up against when I identified the best therapists for women with postpartum depression.

“It’s worth the money,” someone told me.

Sure, I thought, but only if the money is actually there. I can’t fabricate money. I believe this therapist may have been able to help me, but I really needed to see her at least once a week and we simply did not have the resources for that.

By the time I saw the specialist who worked specifically with women who had postpartum depression, I had identified that that quality was one of the most important in my recovery. After seeing a therapist through my husband’s job who told me to “stop doing that” when I told her how my daughter’s crying triggered my anxiety and forced me to immediately drop what I was doing for her every whine and cry while simultaneously trembling, I knew that I needed to work with someone who understood and was sensitive to what I was experiencing.

My problem, which I suspect is a problem felt by many in my position, was getting access to the care that I needed. Every single specialist who worked with women who had postpartum depression did not take insurance except for one. I ended up seeing the one who accepted insurance and even then she didn’t accept my insurance. She told me that she had tried to work with my insurance company, but they claimed that there were already plenty of therapists in their network. Even though she did not take my insurance, she agreed to charge me what a normal copay would be. I was relieved to finally find an affordable option.

The whole process was extremely troubling to me. One of the things I was able to do during that time, which is not easy for someone suffering from depression, is advocate for myself. After almost a year of not feeling well, I realized that I had to take matters in to my own hands. That’s when I became more proactive. This was nearly impossible when my daughter was first born, and I wonder if I had had someone truly advocating for me who knew the proper information to help me find appropriate care, I might have suffered less.

The US Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended that all pregnant women and new mothers get screened for depression, but that is not where the work ends. It’s actually where it begins. How a doctor goes about laying out the resources available to a mother can make a world of difference in whether or not she follows through with seeking help.

I have heard other mothers in postpartum support groups say that the way their doctor dismissed them or just threw medication at them without listening to how they were feeling really turned them off from seeking help. It’s important that mothers who are suffering from a postpartum mood disorder work with understanding and sensitive practitioners. It’s crucial in those early months when a new mother may be feeling misunderstood, isolated, or like nobody cares or understands what she is going through.

The issue of insurance and cost of care were both a really huge barrier. I identified so many resources that could have helped me that I simply could not afford. My inability to access the best care made me feel that my recovery was not valued as much as the people who could afford the best resources.

There is room for much improvement. I hope that by talking about the barriers I encountered, it will encourage people to create programs that are accessible to all mothers, regardless of their ability to pay.

I hope that more resources like the free postpartum depression support groups I found will be made available. I hope that insurance companies will work with more specialists in postpartum depression who, in turn, want to work with the insurance companies. I hope that the specialists who do not accept insurance will find more ways to make their care accessible to more women. I hope doctors who screen their patients for postpartum depression will do more than hand the mother a prescription or piece of paper and send them on their way.

I hope more people will see the value in taking care of mothers so that we can take care of our families. We need to talk about how we can do better.

~Kristina Newman