AMCHP joined forces with mental health advocates, organizational leaders, parents, and caregivers across the U.S. to learn together and advocate for change during Black Maternal Mental Health Week. Black Maternal Mental Health Week (BMMHW) is an annual event founded and hosted by the Shades of Blue Project, an organization dedicated to breaking cultural barriers in maternal mental health by raising awareness and providing support before, during, and after childbirth. This year’s event took place from July 19th – 25th and featured a press conference, 2-day summit, a Postpartum Depression Awareness Walk in Houston, Texas, and more. The 2022 BMMHW theme, Collective Efforts for Greater Community Impact and Change, was a call to action for health equity for Black birthing individuals across the birth experience. The need for maternal mental health awareness and action for Black pregnant and parenting people is clear: Black parents are twice as likely to experience maternal mental health conditions but half as likely to receive treatment as white parents. Black parents also contend with unique challenges stemming from enduring systemic racism and discrimination, including a lack of high-quality, culturally competent medical care, increased stress and exposure to racial trauma, a higher risk of childbirth complications, and medical needs that are dismissed or ignored.
Throughout BMMHW, participants explored these challenges, discussed self-care resources, and shared advocacy tools to spur collective action to improve Black maternal and infant health outcomes and promote healing and joy. Some of the potential solutions and actions that individuals, communities, providers, organizations, and systems can adopt are captured in the graphic below. As we reflect on this recent BMMHW, AMCHP continues to be committed to applying a racial equity lens to our mental health programming and advocacy efforts to enact these transformative actions.