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Minority Health Awareness Month: Perinatal Psychiatry

Treatment and options for women of color
mental health college students
Posted at 5:58 PM, Apr 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-28 20:58:06-04

TUCSON, Ariz.(KGUN) — As minority health awareness month wraps up, KGUN 9 is looking at some of the issues affecting women of color during pregnancy and the options for those who need it. Dr. Saira Kalia runs the perinatal psychiatry Banner University Medical Center, she says the number of expecting mothers dealing with mental health issues is shocking.

“One in five women struggle with a mental health issue in pregnancy and postpartum, that’s a high number. Only about 25% of them will get care, the rest of them will struggle. I’m quoting national data U.S. data,” Dr. Kalia said.

Dr. Kalia Treats women of color who are dealing with mental health issues throughout pregnancy and beyond.

She says it can be tough to get minorities to come in for help-and cases must be handled with care, especially when there’s a historical lack of trust in the healthcare system.

“When you layer on being a minority that becomes a leveled-up challenge. You already have to deal with stigmas, biases and barriers with care. So, reporting something on top of that becomes a challenge,” Dr. Kalia said.

According to Dr. Kalia, there is a growing need for mental health professionals nationwide and scheduling appointments can be a challenge depending on the situation. Patients are typically diagnosed before they come in for treatment.

“If you’re comfortable with your OB go talk to your OB or primary care physician. Have them assess you they can do screenings and tell you if you meet criteria,” Dr. Kalia said.

Another factor is family members and the patient accepting the new reality of a diagnosis. Experts say communication is key and conversations about both mental health and mental illness are needed now more than ever.

"We know if the mom is depressed the baby’s weight can be affected and she can go into preterm birth just from having depression,” Kalia said.

Online groups available that cater to minorities and their situation if needed.

“Tucson has the postpartum depression coalition, there are national resources like postpartum support international. Label the disease talk about the treatment options to start to make sure that everyone is getting care,”Kalia said.

Shawndrea Thomas is an anchor and investigative reporter for KGUN 9. Shawndrea is living her dream as a journalist who’s passionate about making a difference. Share your story ideas and important issues with Shawndrea by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.