When you hear the words postpartum depression what first comes to mind? Oh she’s crazy. Oh I feel sorry for her. Oh she should have her kids taken away. These are things you would think that are being said by people who don’t know you, or people who have nothing better to say. You don’t expect thoughts like this to come from your doctor or from any healthcare professional. In the past week there has been a story of mom Jessica Porten who told her OBGYN that she was experiencing postpartum depression and the cops were called on her and she spent nearly 10 hours trying to clear herself from being admitted into a psych ward. In what way does this make sense you ask? I’m wondering the same, and trying to figure out exactly who does this type of action really help.

“In her Facebook post, Porten points out that as a white, heterosexual woman, she was lucky in some ways. She was allowed to keep her daughter with her during the ER visit, was treated (mostly) respectfully by hospital personnel, and was ultimately released after less than a day. “I am scared for our mothers of color and our LGBTQ mothers who seek out help in these situations,” she wrote.”

Mental health already has a stigma associated with it that’s currently stopping women from seeking help and then you have advocates like myself fighting every day to break the stigma and then a doctor’s office goes and does something like this. This type of behavior displayed in this case is totally unacceptable. I can’t help but to wonder what if this mom was a woman of color. I wonder if the end result would have been the same. I’m partial to say from the women that we have worked with the answer would be No. Everyday women of color are subjected to bias healthcare when it comes to their health in general. Already women of color are currently having a difficult time with addressing mental health issues within their community I dread to think of a woman of color reaching out for help and what happen to Porten being the outcome. Luckily Porten has connected with the organization 2020 Mom and they are working on passing bills in California to address issues such as what has happened in the Porten case and various other issues related to women’s health.

What has transpired publicly has been going on behind the scenes privately. Collectively as community advocates we have to start working with healthcare professionals to educate them on how to handle women’s health in an un-bias manner when help is asked for by a patient. Equal care must be given no matter the color of your skin and no matter your economic status. And most importantly when a woman reaches out for help she is not criminalized in the process.

There is currently groundbreaking work being done in the medication arena for postpartum depression. Sage therapeutic has been fast tracked by the FDA and currently waiting on approval for the pharmaceutical drug Brexanolone. The remarkable results have shown to be effective in women immediately for those who participated in the test study. I believe once this has been approved the way postpartum depression is currently overshadowed or undiagnosed will certainly improve as a whole. Currently the most common drug being prescribed for postpartum depression is Zoloft but with another more effective option, we believe that this will help healthcare professional to better assist those women in need.

At the Shades of Blue Project our focus is to support healthy families. Women are the nurturing supporters of the family and it is important for them to have good mental health. It is also important that the men are included in this. Too often the men are overlooked but they too experience postpartum depression. The mental health of the woman can have its effects on everyone in the household.
I’m issuing a call to action to address the issues surrounding medical professionals and their treatment of those reaching out for help. And for the focus on postpartum depression to include making sure the entire family is healthy mentally. So no longer the days when asking and needing help becomes a matter for the police, but a matter of simply Let me get you the help you need. Together we will stand for what’s right and do our very best to change the way the world looks at mental health.

“Any time women come together with a collective intention, it’s a powerful thing, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.” Phylicia Rashad

Kay Matthews


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