Session: Informing and Promoting Maternal and Infant Mental Health using Multiple Methodologies: From inner worlds of experience to outer words of opportunity (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

149 Informing and Promoting Maternal and Infant Mental Health using Multiple Methodologies: From inner worlds of experience to outer words of opportunity

Cluster: Mental Health
Symposium Organizer:

Sarah Kye Price, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University

Ruth Paris, PhD, Boston University
Sunday, January 17, 2010: 8:45 AM-10:30 AM
Seacliff B (Hyatt Regency)
Untreated depression during pregnancy and parenting has potentially deleterious consequences for mothers and children (Goodman & Gotlib, 1999). Of relevance to social work research, low income and ethnic minority women are not only at elevated risk for depression, but also experience compromised social support, inequitable access to mental health treatment and services, and concurrent stigmatization of both their symptoms and their help seeking (Beeghly et al., 2003; Howell et al., 2005; Rich-Edwards et al, 2006; Song et al., 2004). Designing relevant and responsive interventions requires attention to the perceptions and perspectives of women who historically have had little voice. In this symposium, social work scholars in maternal and infant mental health explore the multiple methodologies through which the inner worlds of women's lived experiences are being integrated into research targeting populations at greatest risk. Papers in our symposium prospectively inform a culturally relevant social work research agenda in maternal and infant mental health, alleviating the “noise” that has been associated with translating intervention research into community settings (Hohmann & Shear, 2002).

Symposium papers integrate specific qualitative methodologies (including constructivist grounded theory, phenomenology, and interpretive in-depth interviewing) which offer women's perspectives in depth and nuanced detail. Low-income women are emphasized by all authors. While individual presentations outline both the process and outcomes associated with multiple research projects, the symposium as a whole illustrates the evolution of research in this field that specifically targets populations who are disproportionately affected and currently underserved.

The symposium begins with a focus on maternal identity, offering a shift in perspective to incorporate conflicting views of self, the externalization of stigma towards “others,” and the ultimate framing of depression as an entity standing apart from women's authentic sense of self. Research on the referral process underscores life stressors that create difficulty distinguishing “depression” from “normal life,” the presence of cultural “taboos” and suspicion with the mental health system; these reinforce the importance of deliberate trust building. Next, research regarding the trusting relationship of doulas illustrates an innovative method to bridge gaps of instrumental, emotional, and informational support between women and the health care system. Research on women's psychopharmacology decision-making is presented next, addressing the balance between desire to enjoy pregnancy and engage in high quality parenting, which may be offset by the challenges of psychiatric medication use during pregnancy and the postpartum. Finally, the symposium concludes with a focus on using low-income, pregnant adolescents' perceptions of depression, mental health treatment, and practical, psychological and cultural barriers to care to develop personalized mental health care engagement and retention strategies.

This symposium highlights the most current, culturally relevant methodologies examining maternal depression and the well-being of women and children at greatest risk. Papers within the symposium offer novel approaches in constructing services, designing culturally relevant interventions, and effectively evaluating innovative programs through rigorous research. Together, the symposium informs a building research agenda and promotes knowledge sharing among an expanding network of social work researchers in maternal and infant mental health.

* noted as presenting author
Maternal Identity Negotiations among Low-Income Women with Postpartum Depression
Laura Curran, PhD, Rutgers University; Laura S. Abrams, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
Postpartum Depression: An Examination of the Referral Process for Low Income, Minority Women
Marjie Mogul, PhD, Maternity Care Coalition; Rhonda Boyd, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
Dimensions of Support Provided by Doulas to Teenage Mothers during Labor and Delivery
Sydney L. Hans, PhD, University of Chicago; Linda G. Henson, MA, University of Chicago; Jeanine Klaus, MA, Erikson Institute; Sunitha Narayanan, University of Chicago
Pregnancy, Parenting and Psychiatric Medication: Low income women's perspectives on psychopharmacology during pregnancy and the postpartum
Sarah Kye Price, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University; Kia J. Bentley, PhD, LCSW, Virginia Commonwealth University
Low-income Adolescent's Perceptions of Perinatal Depression and Mental Health Treatment: ²It's Not Just Because I'm Pregnant²
Sarah E. Bledsoe, PhD, MSW, MPhil, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Amy Sommer, MSW, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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