Over 55% of birthing people in Arizona identify as a person of color (Lewandowski et al., 2020); however, the amount of BIPOC birth workers trained in perinatal mental health does not reflect these numbers.
Together Lakisa Muhammad, CPM, with the Arizona Birthworkers of Color and Elizabeth Wood, PSI-AZ Chairperson, set out to increase the number of BIPOC birth workers trained in perinatal mental health by spearheading a 2-day Perinatal Mood Disorders: Components of Care and Advanced Psychotherapy training in their state.
After countless hours of planning, recruiting volunteers, and securing sponsorships, the FIRST BIPOC training for providers of color facilitated by providers of color took place on May 19th-21st, 2023. By the end of the weekend, PSI trainers Karla Cardoza, LMFT, Kristy Christopher-Holloway, EdD, LPC, PMH-C, and Saira S. Kalia, MD, MBBS equipped 98 AZ birth workers with additional skills to support the perinatal mental health of AZ families.
“This course is amazing. If you work with families, this course is for you. You never know when you will encounter someone dealing with perinatal mood disorder[s] or just struggling during this time period,” shares Natassia Williamson, FNP-C, CHC.
Nellie Del Toro, a Birth and Postpartum Doula, highlighted, “I’ve learned so much this past week. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many BIPOC birth workers, therapists, nurses, healers, students, parents, and so on. We are showing up for our community! Thank you so much, PSI-AZ and Arizona Birthworkers of Color.”
In addition to being the first PSI chapter to offer a BIPOC-only training, PSI-AZ awarded 86 scholarships with the help of the Arizona Department of Health Services, and The Alliance awarded ten scholarships.
“BIPOC-only perinatal mental health trainings provided by Postpartum Support International will directly address the disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and the need to diversify the perinatal mental health workforce. We must understand that to go beyond the surface level of this crucial information; participants must be able to feel safe with one another and the facilitators. Being able to show up as their authentic selves will allow the learning to resonate on a deeper level. We need these cultural ambassadors to take away the information and relay it in the way they know their community will understand and receive it. From this, we will positively impact the dire condition of perinatal mental health for families, parents, and their children,” shares Lakisa Muhammad.
The steps PSI-AZ and the Arizona Birthworkers of Color took to increase the number of perinatal mental health trained BIPOC providers in their state is inspirational. Their hard work, steadfast devotion, and compassion towards their community made it possible for Arizona to make an enormous leap in increasing the amount of BIPOC trained healthcare providers by showcasing that representation truly does matter.
Watch the BIPOC training on the AZ 12 News here.
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Lewandowski KS, Baer CE, Schoustra R, Indatwa A, Celaya MF, Tarango P. SB 1040 Annual Report on Maternal Fatalities and Morbidities in Arizona. Phoenix, AZ: Arizona Department of Health Services; 2020.