Six months after giving birth to her daughter, Jade Kearney struggled with postpartum depression while completing her second master’s program at NYU. To make matters worse, there is an extreme scarcity of mental health professionals equipped with the tools necessary to help a black woman through this kind of situation.
This is how the first seeds of inspiration for the application“And that’s how I founded She Matters because I felt like I didn’t matter…just let me do something that I’m already involved in. I was already involved after the “I’m already black in childbirth. So let’s create an app for black moms who suffer from postpartum anxiety and depression and create a community. And that’s where I really started my tech journey,” said Kearney.
She counts is “a community designed to support and meet the mental health needs of black women” and addresses the mental health of black women using a multi-faceted perspective. According to Kearney“Therapists pay a fee to be on the app and be connected to black women who want therapy. But what’s different with our app and others is that these therapists are culturally competent and understand the relationship very tumultuous that black women have had in the healthcare system.
According to 2020 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), postpartum depression (PPD)” affects more than 11% of women in the United States, or 1 in 9 women. However, the condition does not affect all women equally…Studies suggest that PPD is more likely to occur in women of color. One such study…found that African American women were more than twice as likely to experience postpartum depressive symptoms as white women. representing “of a broader trend in the maternal mortality crisis in the United States, where black women are dying from pregnancy-related causes at 2.5 times the rate of their white counterparts.”
Assistant Professor in the Departments of Population Health Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Tiffany Green, Ph.D. noted “There is some interesting older work in the economics literature that suggests physicians may not communicate as effectively with black patients compared to white patients. In turn, this miscommunication affects clinicians’ ability to correctly diagnose black patients with depression. Furthermore, the evidence strongly suggests that implicit bias (i.e. prejudice) is related to patient-provider communication, which would be particularly important in diagnosing conditions such as depression. I think it is essential to specifically investigate how important these factors are in the context of postpartum (and prenatal) depression.
Kearney and Marguerite Pierce, its co-founder, have done much to realize their vision, while overcoming prolific instances of racism and prejudice. As Kearney said, “It’s so hard, but it’s fair to be at this level as a black woman. It’s all crazy and difficult. So if we’re in the room, we’ve clearly overcome all the obstacles to get there, and there’s usually one or two of us in the space. So to say that you have arrived here, you are [unique], and we’re not going to give you any money. It’s crazy, really. That’s a lot… I’ve had investors say things like, “I love hip hop,” “Are there that many black women,” or “Did you really develop the technology yourself? -same”? 12 weeks I have in my entire life but I refuse to give up because black women are hurting and the problem is fixable. It’s about community and communication, and it’s about making as much noise as possible in the health industry so they know we won’t stop until maternal morbidity and child outcomes patients will not improve drastically.
“There is a need for women of color specifically to have digital solutions that are supportive, confidential and safe,” said Dr Jenna Duffecy and since Kearney’s app debuted to the public in beta form in January, 7,000 people have signed up and the business “already has 180 trained therapists on site and another 700 on the waiting list.”