Black women face a higher risk of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), yet are much less likely to receive treatment than white women. A number of factors account for this disparity. The nonprofit Postpartum Progress (PPP) has launched a program to address two of them specifically—stigma and the lack of black mental health care providers trained in maternal mental health. PPP’s “Mental Health in Color” initiative is lowering barriers to treatment by offering population-specific screening materials, lists of mental health care providers of color, and, perhaps most significantly, offering a scholarship to black mental health care providers interested in attending specialized trainings in maternal mental health.
"We know there's a massive shortage of mental health [care] providers who are specialists in maternal mental health, but that shortage grows a hundredfold when it comes to providers of color," says Katherine Stone, founder and CEO of PPP. And "research shows people often feel more comfortable seeking help from someone who looks like them," adds Jasmine Banks, program manager for PPP. The organization will offer $2,500 to each of four black mental health care providers so they can attend one of three maternal mental health training programs offered in the United States.
Seleni is honored that our two-day maternal mental health intensive is one of those programs – along with the Postpartum Stress Center's 12-hour post-graduate PPD training and Postpartum Support International's two-day perinatal mood and anxiety disorders training. Applications for the first round of scholarships are being accepted until December 19th. PPP is also calling on other organizations to join them in funding additional scholarships, and they intend to expand the program to other underserved populations.
At Seleni, we believe that all mothers deserve the evidence-based, compassionate support that feels most comfortable as they navigate the emotional landscape of pregnancy, perinatal loss, or new motherhood. The scholarship program offered by Postpartum Progress is not only a crucial practical step in increasing the network of expert support available to women of color, but it also sends the equally important message that the field of mental health needs to meet the needs of all women, mothers, and families.