In honour of Black history month, we spoke with CPMHC National Committee member Dr. Anita Ewan to help us shed light on the perinatal mental health of Black parents. This is a demographic that has been historically underserved. It is our mission to ensure that equitable perinatal health services and support are accessible for all.
This is what she kindly shared with us.
Currently there is very little data to display the health disparities Black parents face when it comes to perinatal health support and services in Canada. However, there are statistics in the U.S. that are relevant to Canada since it reveals how systemic racism plays a role in the inequities Black parents experience related to this matter. Some key findings by the UPMC Western Behavioural Health (2020) in the U.S. include:
• 40% of Black mothers will suffer from postpartum depression, which is double the rate for the general population.
• Black mothers are four times more at risk of maternal morality than white mothers.
An article written by Braithwaite (2019) shares five ways we can improve the lack of support for Black parents’ perinatal mental health:
1) Reproductive Therapists should validate Black parents’ feelings.
2) Conduct more psychiatric research focusing on Black pregnant people.
3) Better clinical screenings for postpartum mental health issues in Black people.
4) Telehealth services may make culturally competent mental health care more accessible.
5) The medical systems need to immediately address Black maternal mortality.
The CPMHC is working diligently to improve perinatal mental health services and support in Canada. One way is to recognize the significance of race and the varying experiences it can create for parents. We also hope our work will assist to make the aims listed above achievable in Canada.