The 2020 Multicultural Maternal Mental Health Conference, to be held online this month and hosted in Madison, will look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected diverse communities in politics, business, incarceration, preventive services and health care.
Organizer Shonita Roach, of Madison, said the event, held for the first time last October in Milwaukee, aims to bring awareness to the mental health needs of pregnant women and mothers from various cultures and to services available to help them. Many women suffer postpartum depression or other problems in silence, said Roach, whose 21-month-old son died in Chicago in 2002.
“This is a way to really highlight and amplify their voices and their experience,” said Roach, legislative co-chair for the Wisconsin chapter of Postpartum Support International.
A press release for the conference, to be held Oct. 22-24, said Roach experienced childhood sexual trauma and grew up in foster care before eventually graduating from college.
After her son’s death, she received “extensive psychological care, therapy, parenting classes and spiritual healing,” the release said.
Following the death of her son, prosecutors initially charged Roach with first-degree murder, saying she pushed a box spring and mattress onto him and suffocated him, according to the Chicago Tribune. A spokeswoman for Roach said the case was pleaded down to involuntary manslaughter, with Roach saying the death was accidental, and she spent two and a half years in prison.