Date of Graduation

Summer 8-12-2022

Document Access

Restricted Project/Capstone - USF access only

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Nursing and Health Professions

First Advisor

Kelly Mcdermott

Second Advisor

Teri Boughton-DeBencik.



Objectives - This study aims to identify gaps in seeking and receiving maternal mental health (MMH) services for African American and Latina women in Sacramento County, with the goal to improve the lives of mothers and their children through a more equitable and culturally responsive healthcare system.

Methods - An independent survey was conducted in the form of a survey of Sacramento area new mothers, referred to as the mom survey, and focus groups on identifying the gaps in seeking and receiving MMH services in Sacramento County. Recent literature was also reviewed to understand mothers' experience with postpartum depression among minority women in California. Both studies were conducted in Spanish and English, enrolling African American and Latina moms from minority communities in the Sacramento area. Recruitment for these two studies co-occurred. Data transcripts were reviewed and analyzed for themes.

Results - Most respondents were between 26-31 years of age for the mom survey. Thirty percent of respondents rated their health care experience as less than good. They cited feeling dismissed, unheard, or ignored by perceived attitudes of providers and inconsistent or delayed care. The focus group discussions identified five major overarching themes describing moms' experiences concerning MMH: 1) Lack of access to trusted information, 2) Inequities in healthcare services delivery, 3) Cultural barriers to treatment-seeking behavior, 4) Self-reliance and wanting more support, and 5) Lack of cultural safety.

Conclusion - Ensuring that women and their families receive adequate MMH treatment would lessen the burden on society while also supporting moms and newborns in thriving. More research is needed to understand the mother's experience better when obtaining MMH services. Supporting perinatal mental health is crucial for increasing the well-being of childbearing women and reducing the impact of maternal depression on intergenerational adversity recurrence.

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