Postpartum depression got a clinical evaluation as a possibly life-threatening disease; that is why many screening and treatment xprograms have been adopted by various associations and organizations, mainly in the 2010s. The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses supported screening and programs providing pregnant women with information on postpartum depression (Logsdon et al., 2018). Routine screening using Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) during and after pregnancy lowers the risks of developing severe depression and preventing medication usage (Logsdon et al., 2018). Moreover, performed by perinatal nurses, the screenings are accepted by mothers and give them a sense of care and security and reduce the fear of seeking help in case of depression.
Despite developing multiple initiatives for screening and treating postpartum depression, mostly these projects were colorblind and insensitive to minority groups and people who cannot afford insurance that covers psychological consulting. This situation was reflected in significant differences in susceptibility to depression between Black (44%) and White mothers (31%) because minority groups are more prone to stress and harmful environmental influences (Guintivano et al., 2018). Such a dramatic difference requires paying additional attention to Black mothers’ mental health to restore social justice.
When official primary care initiatives are lacking, there is no surprise that local, non-profitable projects appear and provide care for black mothers. For instance, the Massachusetts doula organization Maroon Calabash exemplifies a comprehensive approach to the treatment of postpartum depression. It offers free of charge in-home care by specially trained doulas and connections for mothers with mental help centers. In addition, Maroon Calabash builds collaborative relationships with mental help centers (D & S Healing Center), healthcare organizations (United Healthcare, UW-Madison’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology), and local services and foundations (Milwaukee Diaper Mission). However, this initiative cannot provide Black women with necessary medication if needed and does not use any technology.
Although Brooklyn and New York lack initiatives specifically for Black mothers struggling with depression, there are various community initiatives helping parents with childcare and are attentive to mental health problems. One of these communities is Park Slope Parents (PSP), which allows its members to get psychologist or social worker help. PSP can help assess the severity of the disease, select the treatment method and refer to the right specialist or support group. Every case needs its specific approach – from individual and couple counseling to group therapy, art, or cognitive therapy. In addition, mothers with any mental issues need constant monitoring to ensure that their disease is controlled and not aggravating.
As noted above, governmental organizations generally oversee the problem of high levels of postpartum depression in Black mothers because of their lack of insurance. Minority groups usually use Medicaid as their only type of insurance, but it covers only 60 days of postpartum mental health care (Shah & Friedman, 2022). At the same time, over 12% of postpartum depression cases occur after this period leading to long-term untreated patients with significant complications (Shah & Friedman, 2022). This situation contributed to many voices suggesting expanding Medicaid coverage of mental health treatment for 12 months.
Finally, in 2020 the legislative initiative addressed black mothers’ problems, and Congress passed the Black maternal health Momnibus act in 2021. Momnibus created the legislative basis for funding community-based organizations, perinatal care, and maternal mental health care (Black maternal health Momnibus act, 2021). Government programs are focused on creating and funding new initiatives in this area and developing the use of digital tools and telehealth to reach more Black women. This act can become a framework for building community-based centers helping Black mothers with everything from financial problems to providing postpartum depression care.
Guintivano, J., Manuck, T., Meltzer-Brody, S. (2018). Postpartum depression: A comprehensive review of the last decade of evidence. Clin Obstet Gynecol, 61(3), 591–603.
Logsdon, C. M., Vogt, K., Davis, D. W., Myers, J., Hogan, F., Eckert, D., Masterson, K. (2018). Screening for postpartum depression by hospital-based perinatal nurses. The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 43(6), 324–329.
Shah, S., & Friedman, H. (2022) Medicaid and moms: The potential impact of extending Medicaid coverage to mothers for 1 year after delivery. Journal of Perinatology, 1, 1–6.