Jade Kearney felt completely prepared when she gave birth to her first daughter in 2017. She had a doula, and she told her doctor up front that she didn't want to pass away while pregnant.
As a Black woman, Kearney is well-versed in the numbers.
Pregnancy-related deaths are more than three times as likely to occur in black women than in white women. By linking Black women with culturally competent medical professionals, Kearney is attempting to change that. A digital program called She Matters was created to address postpartum depression and other comorbidities that Black mothers may face.
Kearney experienced acute postpartum anxiety that manifested as pervasive thoughts of hurting her daughter. Despite being aware of her need for assistance, she felt confined by social expectations to suppress her pain. She realized that her friends and relatives would not assist her because mental health carries a major cultural taboo in the Black community.
Kearney established She Matters to assist and link Black women to healthcare professionals who have undergone cultural competency training, while also providing them with community support to validate their experiences and culturally appropriate resources.
“Having a professional who understands you when you speak about faith, for example, versus a therapist or psychiatrist who thinks you're experiencing psychosis is just so important,” said Kearney. “Being able to adapt to colloquialisms and expand your vocabulary is what it means to be culturally competent. [For example,] saying that you're communicating to a higher power is actually rather common in the Black community.”
Here is a real example of how crucial and beneficial this can be:
"A woman in Maryland had often seen her doctor when she experienced excruciating pelvic discomfort during sex. 'This is in your imagination,' her doctor said. ‘You're not truly feeling this agony.' The doctor offered her an antidepressant right away. She would be in tears about this. She would speak with her spouse. The situation was causing issues in their marriage," Kearmey relates.
"After we matched her with a culturally competent OB-GYN, it was discovered that the pain was being caused by a massive cyst. Therefore, all it took was for someone to simply listen to her and believe that she needed help. And this is the narrative that we frequently hear."
She Matters is a platform that aids Black women in the healthcare system. Kearney is the site's CEO and co-founder. At the end of the year, She Matters will become We Matter, with We Matter serving as product one. Ella Importa is for Hispanic women, Native Her is for Native and Indigenous women and They Matter is for the LGBTQ community.