Raising Awareness about Postpartum Mental Illness among Mothers of Color
April 10, 2019 | We want to thank The Inquirer and WHYY for bringing attention to this important topic, and often, stark reality.
Postpartum depression affects one in seven women. So far, we know that it is caused by a combination of the hormonal changes following birth of a baby, sleep deprivation, and the stress of caring for a newborn. Research shows that “women of color and low-income moms are several times more likely to suffer from postpartum mental illness, but less likely to receive treatment.”
Postpartum depression does not predict poor parenting, and moreover, harm to babies as a result of postpartum depression is extremely rare. The article calls attention to the fact that many moms of color fear getting treatment because they may be seen as “unfit mothers” and risk repercussions from child-welfare services. In fact, the article cites, “studies in several states and at the national level have found child-welfare workers deem black mothers unfit at a higher rate than white mothers, even when controlling for such factors as education and poverty.”
The result? Women of color often minimize or deny their mental and emotional struggles, and ultimately fail to get the help that they need.
Director of Council for Relationships’ Women’s Psychological Health Services Program, Dr. Jane Summers, commented: “This article raises important awareness about a common and distressing condition, but also highlights that mental health care in our country still has a long way to go. Postpartum depression is very treatable, and our specialized team is ready to help. To any moms who are reading this, I would tell you that you don’t have to struggle alone.”
If you or a mom you know is struggling, it may be time to reach out for help. Therapists and psychiatrists of our Women’s Psychological Health Services program are experienced in working with women with a variety of concerns.