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Shining a Light on National Minority Mental Health for Homeless Pregnant Women

July marks an important observance in the United States as it is recognized as National Minority Mental Health Month. Mental health includes our emotional, physiological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act, and it helps determine how we handle stress, relationships, and cope in our daily lives. Mental health affects all people, but culture, race, or gender also affects access to care, treatment and quality of care for many. The month of July gives us an opportunity to shine a light on the unique mental health challenges faced by marginalized communities, as experienced by many of the women who are pregnant and homeless who reside at Carried To Full Term (CTFT). By raising awareness and promoting mental health, and attending to their trauma, our goal is to contribute to the well-being and empower the vulnerable members of our community.

Homelessness is a distressing issue that affects individuals from various backgrounds. Within this population, women who are pregnant and homeless face specific challenges that can have a profound impact on their mental well-being. Adverse pregnancy outcomes while homeless are often attributed to behavioral health comorbidities such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance use disorders, which are more prevalent during a period of homelessness. The complex emotional journey of pregnancy is further worsened by the uncertainty, fear, and lack of stability that come with homelessness. Women often face isolation, limited access to healthcare, and overwhelming stress, all of which contribute to higher mental health issues. Racial minorities experience homelessness at a disproportionate rate. For example, black or African Americans make up 13% of the general population but 40% of the homeless population. Indigenous people across the country continue to experience homelessness at even higher rates. People identifying as Hispanic or Latino are about 23% of the homeless population but only 16% of the population overall. When health care disparities are combined with the stress of being homeless and pregnant, these vulnerable individuals are faced with many odds. Nationally, Black women are nearly three times as likely to die from maternal causes than any other group of women. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that in 2020, the maternal mortality rate for Black women was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, while the same rate for white women was 19.1. Multiple factors contribute to these disparities, such as variation in quality healthcare, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias. Social determinants of health prevent many people from racial and ethnic minority groups from having fair opportunities for economic, physical, and emotional health.

Amidst this challenging landscape, Carried To Full Term has stood as a beacon of hope since 2013. Founded with a vision to provide safe housing, support, and resources to homeless pregnant women, regardless of background, Director Frances Robin has worked tirelessly to address the unique needs of these women by placing great emphasis on mental health support and trauma care. Through individual and group counseling, therapy sessions, and workshops, women are given a safe space to address their emotional struggles, heal from trauma, and develop healthy coping mechanisms. By offering long-term housing, life skills training, counseling, and medical assistance, CTFT provides the necessary foundation for homeless pregnant women to rebuild their lives and nurture healthy futures for themselves and their babies.

The mental health stigma continues to hinder access to proper care for many minority populations. CTFT understands the importance of addressing this issue and works to create an environment free from judgment and shame. By fostering an atmosphere of compassion, acceptance, and understanding, our organization helps women overcome the barriers to seeking mental health support. As Carried To Full Term works diligently to provide immediate support to homeless pregnant women, we recognize the significance of long-term change. By advocating for policy reform and engaging with lawmakers, they strive to improve access to affordable housing, healthcare, and mental health services. Their efforts aim to create a society that not only supports homeless pregnant women but also prevents future generations from experiencing the same hardships.

Carried To Full Term's mission requires community support to continue making a lasting impact on the lives of homeless pregnant women. There are numerous ways you can get involved and support the cause. You can volunteer your time, become a Cycle Breaker, or spread awareness about the organization and the mental health challenges faced by homeless pregnant women. Together, we can ensure that these women receive the care and support they need to thrive.

As we commemorate National Minority Mental Health Month, we must continue raising awareness and breaking down the barriers that minority communities face when seeking mental health services. Mental health is critical to one’s well-being, so we must ensure all communities have access to the comprehensive and affordable care they need. Carried To Full Terms’ goal is to stand as a shining example of an organization dedicated to uplifting and empowering all people, especially minorities. By providing shelter, support, and a comprehensive approach to mental health care, we are helping to pave the way for brighter futures and healthier lives.

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