Supporting Black Moms: Bringing Awareness to Postpartum Depression


May is Maternal Mental Health Month – a time to bring awareness to the importance of mental health support during the pregnancy and postpartum periods.

Mental illness in society occurs a lot more than we normally recognize.   As one of the most common mental illnesses, depression affects more than 280 million people worldwide.1 Depression can greatly impact one’s pregnancy and first year after giving birth.

Postpartum depression in particular affects 1 in 8 women and birthing people in the United States. 2 It is different than the average sadness that can occur after birth when it lasts for more than two weeks. Some of the symptoms specific to postpartum depression are being disinterested in the baby, being unable to bond with the baby, experiencing fear of being a bad mother, and concerns of harming the baby or self. 3 (Maxwell et al). In the United States, postpartum depression is the leading cause of maternal death within the first year after birth as a result of maternal suicide.4

Black women and birthing people in the United States are at a higher risk of experiencing postpartum depression and other maternal mental health conditions.  They are two times more likely than white women to experience poor maternal mental health, but half as likely to receive treatment.5 (MMHLA). According to the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, there are contributing factors that may increase this risk among Black women and birthing people, such as systemic racism, lack of access to high-quality medical and mental health care, higher risk of pregnancy and childbirth complications, distrust of the healthcare system, and shame and stigma.6

Stigma plays a huge role in whether people seek out help.7 Many pregnant and postpartum people dealing with mental health concerns worry about being seen as “crazy” or scared of losing their child if it becomes known to health care professionals that they are experiencing depressive symptoms.8 Black women specifically tend to believe they should “tough out” their symptoms or circumstances to be a strong Black woman; this aligns with certain cultural beliefs that depression can be prevented and resolved through strength and religious faith.9 This idea that Black women have to be strong can lead them to deny symptoms of depression and do without mental health treatment and self-care. There is also an expectation that they must push through depression and stress without allowing negative symptoms to impact their family and job responsibilities.10

So, what can we do about it? How do we help Black women and birthing people get the care they need to manage postpartum depression and anxieties? Hospitals and systems can support the maternal mental health of Black women by listening and creating spaces where they feel comfortable voicing their concerns.11 Mental health screenings and postpartum education should be incorporated into routine appointments.12 Further support includes improving access to culturally competent and well-trained mental health care and providers, making treatment more affordable and accessible, and launching public education campaigns to show women, birthing people, and their families how to notice their symptoms and seek out help.13 We can also address cultural beliefs and dismantle the idea of always needing to be a strong Black woman.14  We must focus on lived experience to better understand Black women and their mental health needs.

To learn more about some of the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, visit:

March of Dimes – Postpartum Depression

Mayo Clinic – Postpartum Depression


For resources around maternal mental health, here are a few to reach out to:

The national Maternal Mental Health Hotline at 1-833-TLC-MAMA

MOMS LINE at 314-768-MOMS

Bridges to Care and Recovery Hotline at 314-628-6272

You can call or text 988 for the Suicide & Crisis LIFELINE

Behavior Health Response at 314-469-6644/ 314-819-8802 (youth)

Behavior Health Response text at “BHEARD” 31658

SkiWise at or on Facebook



  1. “Depressive Disorder (Depression).” World Health Organization, March 31, 2023.
  2. “Depression during and after Pregnancy,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 1, 2023,
  3. December Maxwell, Sarah R. Robinson, and Kelli Rogers, “‘I Keep It to Myself’: A Qualitative Meta‐Interpretive Synthesis of Experiences of Postpartum Depression among Marginalised Women,” Health & Social Care in the Community 27, no. 3 (April 2018),
  4. Maxwell, Robinson, and Rogers, “I Keep It to Myself”
  5. “Maternal Mental Health: Black Women and Birthing People.” Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance (MMHLA), November 2021,
  6. “Maternal Mental Health: Black Women and Birthing People.”
  7. “Stigma, Prejudice and Discrimination against People with Mental Illness,” (American Psychiatric Association, August 2020),
  8. Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo, Crystal T. Clark, and Jayme Wood, “Increasing Diagnosis and Treatment of Perinatal Depression in Latinas and African American Women: Addressing Stigma Is Not Enough,” Women’s Health Issues 28, no. 3 (February 19, 2018): pp. 201-204,
  9. Lara-Cinisomo, Clark, and Wood. “Increasing Diagnosis and Treatment”
  10. Jamila Taylor and Christy M Gamble, “Suffering in Silence,” Center for American Progress, May 1, 2023,
  11. Crysta Meekins, “Supporting Black Women’s Maternal Mental Health Journey,” IFDHE (American Hospital Association, July 19, 2022),
  12. Meekins, “Supporting Black Women’s Maternal Mental Health Journey.”
  13. Taylor and Gamble, “Suffering in Silence.”
  14. Taylor and Gamble, “Suffering in Silence.”
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