skip to Main Content

stethoscopeAre you a healthcare provider? Visit our site for providers

White X
Circle pattern


Honoring Juneteenth

A Reflection on Maternal Mental Health and Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

The Significance of Juneteenth
Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, marks a pivotal moment in American history. It commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, learned of their freedom—two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. This day celebrates freedom, resilience, and the ongoing fight for equality and justice. Juneteenth is not just a day to remember the end of slavery; it is also a reminder of the systemic inequalities that persist in our society. These inequalities have profound impacts on various aspects of life, including healthcare. For Black mothers, the impact of discrimination and marginalization is evident in significant disparities in maternal health outcomes.

Maternal Mental Health: A Critical Issue
Maternal mental health is a crucial aspect of overall health and well-being for mothers and their families. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), which include conditions such as postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis, affect up to one in five mothers. Black mothers are two times as likely to develop a PMAD compared to white mothers but are half as likely to receive necessary treatment.

The Impact of Racial Disparities
Racial disparities in healthcare contribute significantly to the increased risk of PMADs among Black mothers. These disparities include:

  1. Access to Care: Black women often have less access to quality prenatal and postnatal care. This lack of access can result in untreated mental health issues during and after pregnancy. Additionally, they fear Child Protective Services (CPS) if they seek out treatment.
  2. Implicit Bias in Healthcare: Studies have shown that Black patients frequently receive lower-quality care by healthcare providers. This can lead to misdiagnosis or inadequate treatment of PMADs.
  3. Social Determinants of Health: Factors such as economic instability, housing insecurity, and lack of social support disproportionately affect Black mothers, exacerbating stress and increasing the risk of PMADs.
  4. Historical Trauma: Intergenerational trauma can have lasting effects on mental health. The chronic stress associated with this trauma can make Black mothers more susceptible to PMADs.

Addressing the Issue: Honoring Juneteenth Through Action
To honor Juneteenth and support Black mothers, it is essential to address these disparities through concerted efforts at multiple levels:

  1. Improving Access to Quality Healthcare: Ensuring all mothers have access to comprehensive, culturally competent prenatal and postnatal care is crucial. This includes increasing the availability of mental health services and support for Black mothers.
  2. Training Healthcare Providers and Other Systems: Providers should be trained in culturally sensitive approaches to maternal mental health.
  3. Supporting Research: Investing in research that explores Black mothers’ specific mental health needs and effective interventions that can help tailor treatments and support services, such as inclusive screening tools.
  4. Community-Based Support: Strengthening community support networks for Black mothers can provide much-needed social support. This can include peer support groups, culturally relevant resources, and advocacy initiatives.
  5. Policy Changes: Advocating for policies that address social determinants of health, such as affordable housing, access to quality education, and economic opportunities, can improve the overall well-being of Black families.

By addressing the disparities in maternal mental health and supporting Black mothers, we can honor the spirit of resilience and freedom that Juneteenth represents. Together, we can create a society where every mother receives the care and support needed to thrive, ensuring healthier futures for all families.

The Motherhood Center of New York: With treatment, everyone can feel better. You are not alone.
Complete a new patient form to learn more about our treatment services. P: (212) 335-0034

Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance’s Fact Sheet Library: Black Women, Birthing People, and Maternal Mental Health.”

Back To Top