Perinatal Mental Health of Black and Minority Ethnic Families in Scotland – A summary

A comprehensive new report examining racial inequality across mental health services in Scotland is published today by the Mental Welfare Commission. The report called Racial inequality and mental health services in Scotland: A call for action’ looks at six themes: ethnicity and detention under the Mental Health Act; the views of people with lived experience, the experience and training of Scotland’s mental health services workforce; racial equality in that workforce, and recording and reporting of ethnicity across mental health services, including in the Commission’s own work.

According to The Motherhood Group, postnatal depression and anxiety in black mothers is significantly higher than in white mothers. Black women are the least likely to initiate treatment for postnatal mental illness, and the least likely to receive follow-up treatment.

Black Maternal Mental Health Week UK (Monday 27th September – Sunday 3rd October 2021) is committed to raising awareness, highlighting disparities, providing resources, and breaking cultural barriers in Maternal Mental Health for Black Mothers, and birthing people.

The purposes of the week are:

  • To ensure that Black women get adequate mental health and maternity care they deserve during and after childbirth.
  • The gaps in Maternal Mental Health services and the community of black mothers and birthing people are bridged.
  • The disproportionate rates of pregnancy-related and perinatal mental health challenges are addressed and acknowledged among Black women.
  • To share and develop resources for increased access to mental health services.
  • To raise awareness of the barriers faced.

You can support by subscribing to the newsletter where they will be sharing updates prior, during and after the awareness week. Support by sharing content on social media on Black Maternal Mental Week, hold vital conversations, host discussions and take part in activities that will prioritise Black Maternal Mental Health.

Equality Impact Assessment

In 2021, the Scottish Government published Perinatal and infant mental health: equalities impact assessment which reviewed the literature relating to those with the following protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • ‘Marriage and civil partnership’

Reading List

When designing or improving perinatal mental health services, you may wish to refer to this reading list, to explore the current research into the perinatal mental health experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic Women.


Agyepong, Agnes. (2020) Service user involvement in maternity and perinatal mental health research. Parent engagement programme manager at Best Beginnings and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust Maternity Voices Partnership Chair discusses why Black women are not engaging in research and what can be done to change this? (Open Access)

Agyepong, Agnes. (2021) Why bias is key to stopping institutional and structural racism in healthcare and research. Institutional racism not only damages our health, it can kill, and it does. (Open Access)

Bignall, T, Jeraj, S, Helsby, E & Butt, J (2019) Racial disparities in mental health: Literature and evidence review. Race Equality Foundation. (Open Access)

Jankovic, J., Parsons, J., Jovanović, N. et al. Differences in access and utilisation of mental health services in the perinatal period for women from ethnic minorities—a population-based study. BMC Med 18, 245 (2020). (Open Access)

Gunson, D., Nuttall, L., Akhtar, S., Khan, A., Avian, G., Thomas, L., Collins, C. (Ed.), Sims, R. (Ed.), & Pautz, H. (Ed.) (2019). Spiritual Beliefs and Mental Health: A Study of Muslim Women in Glasgow. (UWS-Oxfam Partnership: Collaborative Research Reports Series). UWS-Oxfam Partnership.

Heslehurst, N., Brown, H., Pemu, A. et al. Perinatal health outcomes and care among asylum seekers and refugees: a systematic review of systematic reviews. BMC Med 16, 89 (2018).  Open Access

Higginbottom GMA, Evans C, Morgan M, Bharj KK, Eldridge J, Hussain B, Salt K. Access to and interventions to improve maternity care services for immigrant women: a narrative synthesis systematic review. Health Serv Deliv Res 2020;8(14) (Open Access)

Knifton, L (2012) Understanding and addressing the stigma of mental illness with ethnic minority communities, Health Sociology Review, 21:3, 287-298

Prady, S.L., Pickett, K.E., Gilbody, S. et al. Variation and ethnic inequalities in treatment of common mental disorders before, during and after pregnancy: combined analysis of routine and research data in the Born in Bradford cohort. BMC Psychiatry 16, 99 (2016). (Open Access)

Watson H, Harrop D, Walton E, Young A, Soltani H (2019) A systematic review of ethnic minority women’s experiences of perinatal mental health conditions and services in Europe. PLoS ONE 14(1): e0210587. (Open Access)

WATSON, Helen and SOLTANI, Hora (2019). Perinatal mental ill health – the experiences of women from ethnic minority groups. British Journal of Midwifery, 27 (10), 642-648. (Open Access)

Zaidi, A (2017) Perinatal mental health and Islam. British Journal of Midwifery 25(12):761-764 (Request copy from the author – follow the link)


I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candance Braithwaite

An essential exploration of the realities of black motherhood in the UK ― Observer

Craddock, Karen T., ed. Black Motherhood(s). Demeter Press, 2015. 

McLain, Dani. We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood. Bold Type Books, 2019


With thanks to MECOPP for their excellent list of Scottish BME Organisations

Black Ballad is a UK based lifestyle platform that seeks to tell the human experience through eyes of black British women. We elevate the voices of black British women through content, community and commerce.

How Mums-To-Be Can Protect Their Mental Health During A Global Pandemic

Black Ballad Huff Post Takeover on Black Motherhood


The Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations (CEMVO) Scotland is a national intermediary organisation committed to serving the needs of Ethnic Minority communities in Scotland through a programme of social regeneration designed to enable the Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector to become self sufficient and sustainable in the long term.


Scottish Refugee Council is an independent charity dedicated to provide advice, information and assistance to asylum seekers and refugees living in Scotland.



The project aims to raise awareness of the advice and information available to minority communities, working collaboratively with a range of local support agencies to promote the service and increase referrals.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Amma Birth Companions

Amma Birth Companions is a registered Scottish charity that supports women and birthing people who are experiencing significant adversity on their journey to parenthood. Our trained team of nurturing and compassionate birth and postnatal companions offers support on a voluntary basis to people facing pregnancy, birth, and early parenthood alone. Our companions offer one-to-one emotional and practical support during the perinatal phase, through birth and into the early postnatal weeks, which is complemented by peer support activities.

AMINA Muslim Women’s Resource Centre

To promote the welfare of Muslim women by providing faith and culturally sensitive services and help with accessing services and participating in society by working with mainstream agencies and policy makers.


Bemis is a Scottish organisation whose role it is to support organisations or individuals who are discriminated on grounds of race, culture, colour, faith, language. The core activities of BEMIS include capacity building, co-ordination and strategic influence, identifying and addressing areas for targeted support and development and partnership working.


The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights, formerly the Glasgow Anti Racist Alliance (GARA), works to eliminate racial discrimination and promote racial justice across Scotland.

Is a specialist mental health and well-being support organisation for black, minority ethnic, asylum seeker, refugee and migrant women and girls (12+) in the Edinburgh and Glasgow area. 


Grampian Racial Equality Council 
Casework; Counselling & Mediation, Interpreting & Translation, Information & Advice, Training & Research.



MCFB aims to enhance the wellbeing and life opportunities of vulnerable children, young people and their families in North Edinburgh, and from BME communities in the city of Edinburgh, to enhance standards within the social Services workforce and to contribute to a diverse and just society.

Is a specialist mental health and well-being support organisation for black, minority ethnic, asylum seeker, refugee and migrant women and girls (12+) in the Edinburgh and Glasgow area. 


Africa centre Scotland work with many organisations in Scotland to help African heritage families and individuals in Scotland with information they need from education to health and housing issues.


Shakti’s Aid is an organisation that offers support, advocacy and information to Black and Minority thnic women, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse.

The Polish Family Support Centre in Edinburgh aims to provide psychological, social, educational and advocacy services to Polish community in Scotland.



The BME team aims to make information and services accessible to carers and disabled people from minority ethnic communities through the work of Multilingual Development Workers and a Welfare Rights Officer.


AMINA, Muslim Women Helpline offers a free and confidential information, advice and listening ear service to Muslim women living in Dundee.

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