U.S. Counties with the Highest Maternal Mental Health Risk and Lowest Resources Revealed

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Newswise — WASHINGTON (Nov. 8, 2023)— The risk factors contributing to maternal mental health disorders are complex and known to disproportionately impact communities of color, rural communities, and other groups facing systemic inequities. However, until recently, little has been known regarding the county-level distribution of risk nor the available maternal mental health provider and community-based resources in the United States.

Earlier this year, the Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health released the first-of-its-kind interactive map to track maternal mental health risk and providers, by county. The map illustrates where, in the U.S., mothers are at the greatest risk for maternal mental health disorders and where there is the greatest need for providers and community-based organizations offering support. This project uncovered an immense need for additional maternal mental health providers and programs.

Now a report from the Policy Center and the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University unveils the U.S. Counties with the Highest Maternal Mental Health Risk and Lowest Resources. The report’s key findings are as follows:

Key Highlights:

  • 70% of U.S. counties lack sufficient maternal mental health provider and community based organization resources
  • Nearly 700 counties face a high risk for maternal mental health disorders
  • Over 150 counties fall into the “Maternal Mental Health Dark Zone” with both high-risk and large resource gaps
  • Texas, Michigan, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Indiana are the top 6 states in the Maternal Mental Health Dark Zone

“The map is striking in its ability to highlight the depth of maternal mental health need in the U.S. Nearly a quarter of all US counties are at high risk for maternal mental health disorders, and nearly three-quarters of all US counties lack the providers and community-based supports needed,” said Caitlin Murphy, the Research Scientist at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health, who co-authored the report.  “All mothers deserve mental health support. This report helps states hone in on the counties with deepest, compounding stressors known to contribute to poor maternal mental health.”

Access the full report here

Source: George Washington University

Image: Freepik