This week, 27 September – 3 October 2021, is the second Black Maternal Mental Health Week. Baby Lifeline will be supporting the week by sharing the important messages and themes.
The theme is ‘Black mums aren’t hard to reach,’ and the week is co-ordinated by The Motherhood Group, an organisation that supports and advocates for black mothers and birthing people, offering a space for mutual support whilst campaigning for system change. The Motherhood Group was founded by Sandra Igwe, a member of our newly formed Family Voices Group.
Maternal health advocate Agnes Agyepong writes that Black mothers and birthing people have been told that they are ‘hard to reach’ within maternal and perinatal health. This misconception has direct consequences for Black women and birthing people – who are already four times more likely to die during or after their pregnancy than their white counterparts – and their babies, who are up to twice as likely to be stillborn or die neonatally. Mothers, birthing people and babies of Asian ethnicity are also at a significant disadvantage.
In addition, the Mental Health Foundation found that people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in the UK are more likely to live with mental health problems than white people in the UK because of racism, inequalities and mental health stigma.
The aim of Black Maternal Mental Health week is to raise awareness about these disparities, provide resources, and break cultural barriers in maternal mental health for Black families. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the need for a mental health system that meets people’s needs and does not leave anyone out.