The Atlanta Women’s Foundation’s role is to serve as an educator, funder, and convener on critical issues such as how mental health impacts women in our community. Women impacted by poverty are twice as likely to suffer from mental illness. Without access to the services needed, these women are unable to accomplish the goals they are trying to achieve to become economically self-sufficient.
AWF applies a collective impact approach to the Promoting Women and Girls' Mental Health & Wellbeing Project. The goal of the collective impact approach is to create large scale community change. The approach involves a structured process that includes a common agenda, continuous communication, shared measurement, shared reinforcing activities, and a backbone function. As the backbone organization, AWF guides the vision and strategy of the project, supports aligned activities, establishes and oversees shared measurement, mobilizes funding, and works to build public will and advance policy.
Since 2015, AWF has awarded approximately $800,000 to fifteen local nonprofit organizations providing mental and behavioral health services to women impacted by poverty.
The Promoting Women’s Mental Health & Wellbeing Project gives needed support to nonprofits providing mental health services for women and girls impacted by poverty in our 5-county service area. Women in poverty often neglect their own health and that of their children because of all of the other struggles they deal with in their daily lives. The lives of women and girls in poverty are filled with many challenges, often compounding each other. These women experience stress, grief, and depression without the resources or networks in place to handle these strong emotions in the healthiest way. Social sciences research has repeatedly shown the negative relationship of socioeconomic status with mental illness, and it is widely accepted that individuals with lower socioeconomic status have a higher risk of mental illness.
Recently, the project expanded to serve the mental health needs of teenage mothers. Teen moms face plenty of challenges – from dealing with the shame and stigma of an unplanned pregnancy to finishing school and finding employment. But many also deal with the challenges of mental illness. Researchers have found that twice as many teen moms are at risk of developing postpartum depression as their older counterparts, and nearly three times as many teens with mental illness get pregnant as adolescents without a disorder. In addition to higher rates of postpartum depression, teenage mothers also have higher rates of depression and rates of suicidal ideation than their peers who are not mothers.
Project Outcomes 2015–2017:
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