Motherhood is challenging for everyone, but the complex interplay of racism, discrimination in the medical system, generational weathering, and traumatic experiences, among other factors, mean that access to mental health resources for Black moms — who experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) at a much higher rate than Caucasian mothers — is especially important. "I’m never just a patient. I’m never just a mom seeking help," wrote Jesi Taylor Cruzy in a 2019 Romper essay about her experience with postpartum depression. "I’m a Black person navigating a racist system who happens to have a child."
Harvard researchers have documented the racist treatment of Black patients. At the same time, our nation is facing a maternal health crisis that disproportionately impacts women of color, with Black women three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women, according to a 2018 study published in Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology.
"Black mothers can feel pressure to 'be strong' and not show vulnerability, which may deter them from seeking the mental health treatment they need and deserve," Dr. Nanika Coor, who has a doctorate in psychology, tells Romper. "It is important for Black mothers to have safe spaces to process their own emotions so that they are better able to meet their children's overwhelming feelings with confidence and compassion. Mental wellness is the foundation of being a resilient and effective parent."
With the understanding that Black moms have faced higher incidence of childbirth trauma and injury, systemic racism in their everyday lives, and a mental health stigma within the Black community, it is crucial that these mothers receive every single bit of support they can get by way of easily accessible help for mental health concerns. Read on for a few standout organizations that provide mental health resources tailored specifically to Black moms.
Black Emotional & Mental Health Collective
Specifically designed to reach marginalized and intersectional communities, Ayana — which hasn't launched yet, and doesn't have an official date — offers online therapy that matches users with licensed mental health professionals who share their personal backgrounds. "Black mothers face unique mental health struggles such as postpartum depression, and are oftentimes neglected by the health care system. Too many times have we witnessed examples of black women whose voices were not heard," Sandy Ahumada, a member of the Ayana team, tells Romper.
A current crowdfunding campaign for Ayana offers one month of free therapy for one month of therapy purchased. "Through Ayana Therapy, Black mothers will have the opportunity of being seen and understood," Ahumada says. "Through our services, you can be matched and speak with a therapist such as Jenny Delacruz, who not only specializes in postpartum depression, but also understands their intersectional identities such as those of being a Black mother."
The resource has been cited by Self, Essence, and was named by Fast Company as one of the world's 10 most innovative wellness companies in 2020.
Zencare's Black Therapist Network
"The best indicator of a child's wellbeing is a parent's wellbeing, thus parental stress like trauma or depression has a negative impact on parenting," Coor says.
Melanin & Mental Health
For Black moms who not only want to seek support from a therapist, but are looking for resources that they can use at home to better understand their mental health needs, Melanin and Mental Health is another organization recommended by Odom. Created by therapists of color, it has both a directory and podcasts to help people find their own therapist.
Fertility For Colored Girls
Fertility For Colored Girls is a recommended resource to help Black women cope with stress from trying to conceive.
"I refer mom clients here who need additional emotional support via support groups and funding to help expand their families," Odom says. "FFCG seeks to provide education, awareness, support and encouragement to African American women, couples, and other women of color experiencing infertility and seeking to build the families of their dreams."
Mocha Moms, Inc.
Odom recommends Mocha Moms, Inc. as a national organization with local chapters that allow moms of color to meet in person, discuss issues in virtual events, and find local support.
"The United States is simply not a safe place to be black," Cheli English-Figaro, Esq., co-founder and President Emerita of the organization said in a press release. “I am Black, I have three Black children, and a Black husband. There is not one day that I am not acutely aware that the color of our skin puts a target on each of our backs.” The group has also called on law enforcement leaders to make policy changes.
When Black moms want to find a therapist who can truly relate to their specific needs and stressors, a therapist directory like the one at Therapy Den may be a great source of support.
"This is an inclusive directory of therapists," Brown says. "You can find someone that matches with your specific needs — maternal mental health for example — and that includes a therapist who addresses cultural and systemic oppression or treats stress caused by the political climate."
Mindful & Melanated
Brown says the social wellness and support network Mindful and Melanated is a great resource for Black women to tailor their search for a therapist specializing in their exact concern and stage.
Birth Trauma & Support Center
For Black moms who have experienced a traumatic birth, Brown recommends the Birth Trauma and Support Center. "You can find a provider that has received birth trauma training, is culturally competent, and informed."
Local & Online Social Support Groups
"It's great for moms to have a support group, access to material resources, and a playdate group if they have young children," Whitni F. Toson, a Black therapist who specializes in maternal mental health tells Romper. "I personally have been in several playdate groups and found that I am more comfortable in a group where I can discuss current events or concerns for my black son with mothers who can relate."
Toson recommends this list of support groups on Brown Mamas for moms who want to join a specific network of like-minded moms to discuss their mental health.
Kerri-Anne Brown, LMHC a reproductive and maternal mental health expert with Healing with Wisdom, LLC
Nanika Coor, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and respectful parenting expert at Brooklyn Parent Therapy
Shivonne Odom, LCPC, LPC, perinatal mental health therapist that specializes in Black Maternal Mental Health counseling at Akoma Counseling Concepts, LLC
Whitni F. Toson, MA, LPC
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