Opinion | Neglecting New Moms’ Health and Asians’ Mental Health
To the Editor:
Re “Fragile Babies, Worn Workers and Costly Care” (front page, Oct. 11), about a worker at a Queens maternity center who stabbed three babies and herself:
This attack was tragic but shouldn’t obscure the need that these centers may be filling to provide a watchful eye and better care for women who have just given birth. In a culture where friends and family turn their focus immediately to the new baby, a new mom’s health can be neglected, including by her.
Many maternal deaths in the United States occur after women leave the hospital. An estimated 60 percent could be prevented if women and families knew more about postpartum risks, women sought medical attention immediately if they suspected that something was wrong and health professionals acted swiftly on the mother’s concerns.
Having a safe place where new mothers’ health needs are attended to is an important public health measure and one that could save lives.
The writer works for a public health consulting firm.
To the Editor:
Your article is a heartbreaking reminder of the serious lack of mental health services for the Asian community in New York.
Yu Fen Wang’s family saw the signs of an impending breakdown, but they lacked the resources to find her the help that she needed.
Cultural stigma prevents open discussion of mental health issues like depression in the Asian community. Even if a patient is willing to seek treatment, there are few hospitals and clinics equipped to offer culturally appropriate mental health services.
One-size-fits-all treatment options are ineffective, given the cultural diversity among Asian New Yorkers. For instance, there are 20-plus Asian languages spoken in the community, and it is a herculean challenge to find mental health professionals capable of communicating in one or more Asian languages.
Moreover, some of the poorest New Yorkers are Asians, and do not have access to treatments offered through insurance. We need serious investment in mental health services appropriate to the Asian community to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.
The writer is executive director of the Asian American Federation.