As maternal mental health advocates, we appreciated Jennifer Wadsworth’s May 10 Health & Science article, “Rise of perinatal and postpartum depressions.” This problem demands urgent action. But the health-care system responses mentioned must be the beginning, not the end, of reform.
Well before the coronavirus, millions of pregnant women and mothers faced domestic or community violence, poverty and the denial of health care, food and child care, among other threats. Under those circumstances, anxiety, depression and other “disorders” are best understood as normal responses to very real dangers. The health-care system can do little to mitigate these threats. And, as the article noted, maternal mental health problems are more common among women of color and other marginalized people, whom the health-care system has historically underserved.