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Supporting Minority Mental Health During Pregnancy and Postpartum

Minority Mental Health

Supporting Minority Mental Health

Mental health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, especially during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. At Chicago Volunteer Doulas (CVD), we support the physical and mental health of birthing people and their partners. July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, which aims to raise awareness of the unique challenges that racial and ethnic minorities in the United States face when it comes to mental illness.

Understanding Mental Health in the Perinatal Period

Perinatal mental health refers to the emotional and psychological well-being of individuals during pregnancy and after childbirth. This period can bring about various mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, and postpartum psychosis. Black and Brown patients often face unique challenges in this area due to factors like racism, chronic stress from discrimination, and inequities in the maternity care system.

Minority Mental Health do not neglect

Black birthing people are more likely to experience postpartum depression (PPD) than White women, and there are many contributing factors. Racism and chronic stress from discrimination can increase the risk of maternal mental health disorders. Trauma from higher levels of childbirth complications also elevates the risk of PPD.

Barriers to mental health care, such as lack of access to services and racial bias from healthcare professionals, further exacerbate the issue. Other contributing factors include socioeconomic status, exposure to violence, gaps in medical insurance, adverse childhood experiences, and lack of representation in the medical system.

Impact on Birthing People

Pregnancy and childbirth place immense physical and emotional strain on birthing people. Many face mental health challenges that can affect their overall well-being. Early detection and support are vital in managing these conditions. At CVD, 30% of our clients have experienced Postpartum Depression, and 20% have experienced anxiety. These numbers highlight the importance of addressing mental health during the postpartum period.

Impact on Partners

Partners are not immune to mental health challenges. They may experience anxiety, depression, and stress as they support their loved ones. It's particularly crucial for partners to recognize their own mental health needs and seek help when necessary. Providing emotional support and understanding can make a significant difference. Doulas4Dads is an excellent resource, supporting fathers and partners through the birthing journey with emotional and practical support.

Role of Doulas in Supporting Mental Health

Doulas are crucial in offering emotional and practical support to birthing people and their partners. At CVD, our Doulas are trained to recognize and support mental health needs, providing a comforting presence and practical assistance. Testimonials from our Doulas demonstrate their commitment to supporting mental health.

Resources and Support Systems

Minority Mental Health doula resources

CVD is committed to improving health outcomes through Doula education and fostering community connections. We offer various services, including emotional support and access to mental health resources. By leveraging numerous local and national resources, we aim to enhance perinatal mental health for all.

One of our key initiatives includes community support groups, which provide a platform for sharing experiences and finding solidarity. Additionally, we make community-based recommendations to comparable places, including Sistah Afyah, a dedicated resource supporting the mental health and wellness of Black women and birthing people.

Call to Action

We encourage open conversations about mental health to break the stigma and promote seeking help. Supporting CVD through volunteerism, donations, or event participation can help us advance our mission.

Sharing your personal stories can also inspire others to seek support and create a community of understanding. Reach out to us at to tell us the story you'd like to share. You can also include photos if you'd like.

Mental health awareness is crucial for birthing people and their partners, especially within the Black community. In recognition of Minority Mental Health Awareness, it's vital to understand the challenges and seek support to foster a healthier and more supportive community. Let's work together to prioritize mental health for everyone involved in the birthing process.



Empowering Self-Advocacy for Parents with Intellectual Disabilities

Empowerment starts with understanding your rights and seeking the necessary support. The document "Advice and Facts for Mothers and Expecting Mothers with Intellectual Disabilities" by Finn Gardiner (ENGLISH / SPANISH) offers valuable insights for parents with intellectual disabilities. Here are some simplified self-advocacy tips inspired by this resource and other reputable sources:

  1. Understand your rights.

  2. Ask for help early.

  3. Communicate with your doctor.

  4. Build a support network.

  5. Use tools and resources.

  6. Advocate for your needs.

  7. Seek educational support.

  8. Know your parenting strengths.

  9. Access community resources.

These tips aim to support and empower you on your parenting journey. For more detailed advice, visit the Brandeis Heller School’s website.


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