Every mother, including Black mums, deserves good mental health and the support and care they need during pregnancy and after childbirth.
Yet Black mothers experience unique challenges that contribute to higher rates of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. They also face greater barriers to accessing mental health care.
It’s vital that their stories are heard and action is taken to tackle the mental health disparities Black mothers face. Yet too often, their experiences are overlooked and under addressed.
1 in 5
Black mothers reported that they did not visit healthcare professionals when they were feeling low mood and depression.
more Black mothers experience postpartum depression than any other group.
more likely for Black women to die in childbirth than other groups.
We recognise a clear difference in outcomes for Black mothers in their perinatal experience compared to many other mothers across the UK. Mental health stigma and feeling judged and unheard are common barriers faced by Black mothers during pregnancy and early parenthood.
Getting support does not always feel like a realistic option for mothers. One-fifth of Black mothers reported they didn’t visit healthcare professionals to talk about their low mood and depression . In the UK, ethnic minority groups are more likely to present with mental health problems, while their mental health needs are less likely to be detected.
It is vital that all of us in society make sure that we support women who may be silently struggling in their perinatal experience.
Black Maternal Mental Health Week 2023
As part of our aim to spotlight seldom-heard voices in the perinatal experience, we are proudly supporting Black Maternal Mental Health Week, a national campaign led by The Motherhood Group. This year, it takes place from 25 September to 1 October, and the theme is “Breaking Cultural Barriers”.
Black mothers are disproportionately affected by cultural barriers that hinder their access to mental health care. This campaign shines a light on the unique challenges facing Black maternal mental health, due to factors such as historical trauma, racial discrimination, and limited access to culturally competent care. And it calls on us to address and break these barriers, to ensure the wellbeing of Black mothers and their children.
How we're helping Black maternal mental health
We promote workforce development, supportive peer networks and a shared understanding of the best practice, through our Young Mums Connect and Amplifying Maternal Voices programmes. These projects are funded by our Covid Response Programme, informed by the Foundation’s participation in the ‘Mental Health in the Pandemic’ research.
The NHS has also recognised a need for more tailored support with a plan that, by 2024, 75% of women from minority ethnic communities will receive continuity of care throughout pregnancy and the post-natal period.
Overall, this will improve Black mothers’ experiences of care, and their perinatal mental health outcomes. However, this is just a starting point. It’s vital that every woman receives continuity of care through their perinatal journey, allowing for better physical and mental health outcomes for mothers and their babies. Through this equity of care, we will start to see reductions in pre-term births, hospital admissions and the need for emergency intervention during labour for Black mothers.
It is time for Black mothers’ voices to have greater influence in the care they receive, including setting commissioning priorities and informing the workforce.
Young Mums Connect programme
In partnership with The Motherhood Group and Nottingham City Council, we lead the Young Mums Connect programme. This work focuses on the unique needs and experiences of young mothers and their babies.
Through this programme we’ve rolled out an evidence-based model for mothers and babies that includes:
- Mental health care through peer support and education.
- Training packages for health and social care teams across England.
Amplifying Maternal Voices project
In partnership with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, the Amplifying Maternal Voices project highlights the perinatal mental health experience of women and their families from ‘seldom-heard’ communities. It focuses on women with diverse needs, including including young mothers, single mothers and mothers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.
The project provides these women with greater access to influencing care, commissioning priorities, and informing workforce development through the toolkit. It also aims to increase knowledge and awareness of the impact of inequalities on perinatal outcomes for women, babies and families within perinatal service providers.
Through this work we aim to achieve equal mental healthcare for all pregnant women and new mothers who need support.
Support Black maternal mental health
Black mothers deserve their voices to be heard.
Support Black maternal mental health by listening to and sharing their stories during Black Maternal Mental Health Week and beyond.
Anisah shares her different birth experiences and how she found the maternity system.
"I believe the key factor in providing equal outcomes for Black women is having the ability to advocate for yourself or having someone who you trust to do so on your behalf."
Advocate for yourself, friends or loved ones.
Support Black maternal mental health by advocating for yourself, or supporting friends or loved ones that may not be receiving the support they deserve. Check in on your friends or family member’s wellbeing during and after their pregnancy. A listening ear and the right support can make such a difference.
Jessica shares the challenges she faced as a pregnant Black women going through maternal care in the UK.
"My advice is to advocate for yourself, or be a listening ear for your friends and family as the support can go a long way."
Racism and mental health blog and resources
Co-authored by the Mental Health Foundation Staff Working Group and Community Partner and Staff Working Group, this blog discusses the impact of racism on racialised communities and outlines a series of resources and tips on racism and mental health.
Tackling inequalities to reduce mental health problems
This report describes the extent of inequalities contributing to poor mental health in the UK today. It explains how certain circumstances interact with our own risks and discusses communities that are facing vulnerabilities.