Engaging Black Communities in Perinatal Mental Health Support

Families Matter Society of Calgary

Engaging Black Communities in Perinatal Mental Health Support

For the past 25 years, Families Matter has offered a unique and specialized perinatal mental health (PMH) Peer program in Calgary that is recognized for its successful outcomes in helping families struggling with postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders. Over these years, very few Black families have registered for this PMH program despite research findings indicating a higher relative incidence rate among black individuals. During the pandemic, there has been a noticeable rise in demand and an exacerbation of presenting symptoms among parents referred to our PMH program, and Black families continue to be absent among clients served. This project will address an obvious need to engage and support the Black community. 

Lead organization: Families Matter Society of Calgary

Increase involvement of Black communities in the delivery of our Perinatal Mental Health (PMH) program.

WHO

Black perinatal individuals and their families in Calgary, AB

WHAT

Objectives

  • Increase the awareness and reduce stigma in Black communities about perinatal mental health and supports.
  • Provide peer support to Black parents struggling with their mental health.

HOW

  • Recruit and train mothers with lived experience to provide Peer Support
  • Hire Project Coordinator from within the Calgary Black community
  • Engage organizations representing distinct groups within the Black community in consultation, outreach and awareness-building
  • Provide education sessions for the fathers/partners
  • Provide educational sessions for professionals from health/mental health and social service sectors who are serving Black families/Black communities.

WHERE

Settings

  • Family health center

Implementation sites

  • Calgary, Alberta

WHY

  • For the past 25 years, Families Matter has offered a unique and specialized perinatal mental health (PMH) Peer program in Calgary that is recognized for its successful outcomes in helping families struggling with postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders.
  • Very few Black families have registered for this PMH program despite research findings indicating a higher relative incidence rate among Black individuals.
  • This project will address an obvious need to engage and support the Black community.

 

In the words of the project team members

“I’m just hoping that we’ll be able to open up those dialogues and that space, for psychological safety for these families to come forward and to be able to speak to just what’s going on with them. Going from being invisible and not heard, to now having a space where they can be visible, they can be heard, maybe they can feel a sense of normalcy, and they can come back to who they are and then finding themselves and just feeling okay with their experience.”

Key protective factors

  • Resiliency
  • Healthy relationships with peers
  • Supportive relationships in the community
  • Equity
  • Access to health and support services

Key approaches

  • Peer support

 


 

Public Health Agency of Canada news release