The month of April is recognized in the United States as National Minority Health Month – a month-long initiative to advance health equity across the country on behalf of all racial and ethnic minorities. Today marks the start of Black Maternal Health Week (April 11-17). I want to acknowledge all the groups like 2020 Mom and Black Mamas Matter Alliance, who are working to bring awareness to the plight of Black moms and amplify community-driven policy, research, and care solutions. #BMHW20 is an opportunity to consider solutions to the black maternal health crisis without fear, blame, or shame. #BlackMamasMatter #ListenToBlackWomen
Many of us suffer from mental health disorders. Worldwide, about 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have just given birth experience a mental disorder, primarily depression. Also, the affected mothers cannot function properly.
I have anxiety, and for the first few years of my daughter’s life was ashamed to admit it because I felt like Black mothers were “stronger than that.” I’m watching the unprecedented events of the world today affect Black families and women disproportionately, and know that many Black moms are scrambling to find ways to “push through,” ignoring their mental health.
This is precisely why I applaud this year’s theme: “Centering Black Mamas: The Right to Live and Thrive.” Activities during Black Maternal Health Week are rooted in human rights, reproductive justice, and birth justice frameworks, and #CenteringBlackMamas is an opportunity to think about improving maternal health disparities without fear, blame, or shame. We must recognize the strengths of Black Mamas—their motherhood, scholarship, leadership, and research—if we sincerely hope to end the maternal health crisis. At the same time, we must also understand that maternal mental disorders are treatable, and Black Mamas do not have to “push through” them alone to exhibit strength.
As a Black mom, I selfishly look forward to deepening the national conversation about Black maternal health in the US this week. I relish the opportunity to elevate Black mom voices and perspectives around issues that impact them. And as always, if you have a story to share about maternal mental health, please email me.
All my love,
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