Session: WITHDRAWN Maternal Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond: An Overlooked Social Justice Issue (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

115 WITHDRAWN Maternal Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond: An Overlooked Social Justice Issue

Friday, January 14, 2022: 2:00 PM-3:30 PM
Marquis BR Salon 14, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Mental Health
Symposium Organizer:
Tova Walsh, PhD, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Maternal mental health issues can begin during pregnancy and persist long after the birth of a child. They can have significant consequences for mothers, children, and maternal-child relationships. Yet even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, mothers faced barriers to accessing mental health care, including cost, provider shortages, stigma about mental health and substance use, and lack of time off work or childcare. Mothers with low income and mothers who are Black, Indigenous, or from other communities of color face heightened barriers due to structural and historic racial inequities. Although the urgency of early identification and response to maternal mental health issues is clear, research is needed to better understand factors that support or impede maternal wellbeing and access to care in the perinatal period. The four papers in this symposium use qualitative and quantitative data collected from diverse populations of pregnant women and new mothers to examine previously under-studied processes, relationships and constructs as they relate to maternal mental health. The first paper increases understanding of complex factors that contribute to parenting for mothers with substance use disorders (SUDs) by exploring relationships among attachment, reflective functioning, mental health, and substance use in a sample of pregnant women with SUDs participating in a RCT of a therapeutic parenting intervention. Findings demonstrated that trauma symptoms and mental health were consistent predictors of constructs central to optimal parenting, raising important intervention targets for a highly stigmatized population of mothers. The second and third papers utilize data collected from mothers recruited via social media mothers' groups. The second paper examined the contribution of mothers' expectations, perceived breastfeeding and parental self-efficacy to maternal emotional wellbeing. Results indicated that supporting flexible expectations and confidence in baby feeding is likely to contribute to mothers' enhanced wellbeing. Using qualitative data from semi-structured interviews with mothers who gave birth early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the third paper explores compound psychological impacts of the perinatal period and the pandemic and mothers' access to mental health care during the pandemic. Mothers' accounts revealed the profound toll of the pandemic on maternal mental health and multiple ways that it undermined access to care, demonstrating the urgency of enhanced support for perinatal women in times of heightened stress and uncertainty. The final paper uses survey data from the Baby's First Years study, a RCT of poverty reduction during early childhood, to examine depression, anxiety, and sleep quality among low-income mothers of one-year-olds early in the pandemic when social distancing was at its peak. Inconsistent with most research on maternal mental health during the pandemic, this study found that low-income mothers of one-year-olds reported significantly better mental health during the early phase of the pandemic, raising the idea that these mothers may have felt temporary relief in pulling back from complex life stressors. Collectively, this set of papers advance understanding of contextual factors that contribute to maternal mental health and access to care and inform directions for social work research and strategies for practitioners to advance equity in maternal mental health.
* noted as presenting author
Attachment Style, Trauma, and Reflective Functioning Among Pregnant Women with Substance Use Disorders
Ruth Paris, PhD, Boston University; Ashley Short Mejia, MSW, Boston College; Ruth Rose-Jacobs, ScD, Boston University
Maternal Emotional Wellbeing: The Role of Parental Self-Efficacy, Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy and Expectations
Rena Bina, PhD, Bar Ilan University; Tal Blaugrund, MSW, Bar Ilan University
"Who Decides Which Care Is Essential?" Perinatal Women's Mental Health and Access to Care during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Tova Walsh, PhD, University of Wisconsin - Madison; Sarah Meier, MSW, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Rachel Reynders, MSW, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Helenia Quince, MSW, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Dana Levin, PhD, LMSW, University of Windsor
Psychological Well-Being of Low-Income Mothers of One-Year-Olds during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Elizabeth Premo, MSW, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Katherine Magnuson, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Nicole Lorenzo, PhD, University of Maryland-College Park; Nathan Fox, PhD, University of Maryland-College Park; Kimberly Noble, PhD, Columbia University
See more of: Symposia