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

Mental Health In Color Initiative: Meet The Scholarship Recipients


To recover from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, women of color must be seen and heard without the roadblocks of judgment and bias. But too often, racial differences between clients and providers make an already difficult process even more difficult.

There is a massive shortage of mental health providers who are specialists in maternal mental health, and sadly, that shortage grows exponentially when it comes to providers of color.

We want to help change the landscape of maternal mental health for women of color by investing in the future of Black women. That’s why last year, Postpartum Progress launched the Mental Health in Color Initiative. We are providing training scholarships to mental health providers of color who are interested in expanding their professional expertise into maternal mental health. We believe that this training will improve the standard of care for everyone.

Today, we are proud to announce the program’s first scholarship recipients.

Desirée Israel, LGSW
Desirée Israel is a mental health professional who focuses on postpartum recovery. She has a longstanding commitment to postpartum well-being and is active within the Postpartum Progress community. Her areas of professional focus are on Cognitive Behavioral, NTU Psychotherapy, and holistic energy healing (reiki). Desirée works with the pre and postnatal client populations. She applied to the scholarship in order to deepen her reach and bring effective knowledge to the work she is already doing.   

Collette McLean, LCSW
Collete McLean is a mental health professional who focuses on multiple forms of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy interventions. Her specialization is in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Combined Parent-Child Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Additionally she employs Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Collette works with college students at a mid-size state school. She applied for the scholarship in order to provide a resource to pregnant college students, a demographic that is often missed and undersupported.

Olivia Baylor, LCPC
Olivia is a mental health professional whose focus is work with LGBTQI couples. Olivia is particularly passionate about this demographic and often sees additional harm shown to LGBTQI identified individuals due to their lack of visibility in maternal mental health work. Olivia’s theoretical approaches are CBT, Narrative Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy. Olivia is also a gender affirming therapist.

As our operating budget grows, it’s our goal to be able to offer even more scholarships in the future. For questions about Postpartum Progress’ Mental Health in Color Initiative, please contact program manager Jasmine Banks at jasminebanks@postpartumprogress.org.

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 December 19th. We will choose all of our applicants by December 27th.

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