Black Maternal Mental Health Week Begins July 19 – Shades of Blue Project will host a week-long event

HOUSTON, Texas -- Black maternal morbidity is on the rise and the numbers are higher than originally reported. According to a study by the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland, Black mothers are 3.5 times more likely to experience death by pregnancy. Kay Matthews, founder of The Shades of Blue Project and Black Maternal Mental Health Week says the mental health of Black mothers is also a factor in the significantly higher numbers.

The Shades of Blue Project is hosting a week-long event focused on Black maternal mental health and will launch with a press conference and balloon release on Tuesday, July 19, 2022 at Houston's City Hall - Hermann Square Park from 4 to 8 P.M.

Black Maternal Mental Health Week will be held July 19 through July 25 and includes an in-person training session, a two-day summit, a community awards brunch, a walk and family fun day, and ends with a State of Black Maternal Mental Health Roundtable discussion.

"We have many issues in our city around mortality and morbidity and its ties to postpartum mental health complications," Matthews stated. "We've always had a problem, but what will we do to solve it?" she asked.

Matthews and her collaborative partner, Kimberly A. Baker, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Health Promotion & Behavioral Science, say they know that it will take "education, awareness, and action" to finally see a decrease in Black maternal morbidity.

The two-day hybrid summit will be held July 21-22, 2022 and Matthews and Baker are excited the event is back in person and for the continued virtual component. Matthews grinned, "I'm excited to see people excited about it being in person."

This year's summit includes local, national, and international speakers. A partial list of speakers and topics include:

* Nathalie Walton of Expectful; Innovation in Maternal Mental Health

* Titi Otunla, of Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, a Nurse-Midwife and Carla Ortique, MD of The Women's Specialist of Houston at Texas Children's Hospital; Let's Talk: Addressing What's Killing Black Women Giving Birth (OBGYN & Midwives)

* Marquita Stray of Imani's Light; A Deafening Silence - The Intersection of Black Birthing People, Perinatal Loss, and Disenfranchised Grief

* Zainab "Zee" Sulaman of Health Connect One; Maternal Mental Health in our Community

* Omari Maynard of The ARIAH Foundation, Kenn Harris of National Institute for Children's Health Quality; and Shaugnn Thomas of Invest in Yourself; Fatherhood in the Black Community

This is the organization's fourth year hosting Black Maternal Mental Health Week and Matthews hopes the project is short-lived. "My goal is to no longer have a Black Maternal Mental Health Week 10 years from now," she said. Matthew hopes that through continued awareness, understanding, and action taken by her organization and community partners, that there won't be a need for the event. "But until we reach that point, we'll continue to be here and show up," she affirmed.

For registration, complete list of speakers, and full description of activities, please visit: https://www.shadesofblueproject.org/black-maternal-mh-week.

About The Shades of Blue Project:

The Shades of Blue Project is a Houston-based nonprofit organization with a continued focus on improving the maternal mental health outcomes for black and brown birthing people. The Shades of Blue Project recently opened a Maternal and Mental Health Resource Center located in North Houston. The center offers social support services, job placement skills, onsite therapy sessions, support groups, and many more dedicated services to benefit the community.

Learn more: https://www.shadesofblueproject.org/

VIDEO (Vimeo): https://vimeo.com/717262737/d740eb86ed

Related link: https://www.shadesofblueproject.org/

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