After experiencing miscarriages and infertility challenges, Olymphia O’neale-White underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF). She was shocked and disheartened her medical providers did not offer her emotional support or referrals to a mental health professional during this time.
The BIPOC fact sheet released by the American Psychological Association noted, “Black and Latina women are less likely to seek fertility treatment than their white counterparts. However, when financial barriers are removed or reduced, there is an increase in the use of assisted reproductive services by Black women.”
This experience made Olymphia question the presence, or lack thereof, of mental health professionals as it relates to reproductive health and infertility. Olymphia’s passion project to learn more about this topic turned into her research for her dissertation as she is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Kentucky at Lexington. Olymphia’s research is comprised of three main components: a systematic literature review, the current curriculum for social work students, and an 8-hour reproductive healthcare continuing education course for Masters of Social Work students.
“I want to help social workers normalize talking about reproductive healthcare with clients, during our assessments and especially with marginalized populations,” shares Olymphia. She also highlights the importance of mental health providers feeling confident and competent while working with persons dealing with infertility challenges.
National Infertility Week (NIAW) is April 23rd-29th, is a movement, founded in 1989 by RESOLVE. Per RESOLVE, “all too often myths and misinformation appear in media stories or influence lawmakers and companies to enforce policies that create barriers for people who need help building their family. And still people feel isolated when they struggle to build a family, so we want to empower them to share their story and find a community that cares.”
If someone in your circle shares their experience with infertility, Olymphia recommends offering a listening ear as well as learning more about the topic through organizations like Broken Brown Eggs, Sisters in Loss, the film Eggs over Easy, and research studies shared by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and American Psychological Association.
If you are interested in Olymphia’s research or want to connect with her further you connect with her on LinkedIn or by emailing her at email@example.com