Community-engaged research will show Proyecto Mamá the path to support Milwaukee-area Latina mothers.
By Joni Moths Mueller
Five years from now the mothers Dr. Lisa Edwards interviews for Proyecto Mamá may share different stories. But today, at what should be one of the most blessed moments of life — bringing a new baby into the family — Edwards is learning Milwaukee-area Latina mothers experience stress and loneliness.
Edwards began studying various aspects of Latino health and well-being when she was in graduate school. Her interest in the perinatal health of Latinas came from a personal epiphany. “After I had kids myself I realized that even though I had everything at my fingertips, it was still hard,” says Edwards, a professor of counselor education and counseling psychology in the College of Education.
What happens to Latinas who don’t have access to support systems? Proyecto Mamá was born out of Edwards need to know.
The multiyear project won a Marquette Women and Children of Color grant, which Edwards says “was exactly what we needed” to fund the community-engaged research. Data is being collected through focus group interviews with health care practitioners who have the most contact with mothers, with church leaders who play an important role in the lives of this population, with the mothers themselves and with their partners.
The health care practitioners have already pinpointed the No. 1 issue Latinas face. It’s trauma resulting from isolation, migration experiences, fear of deportation, poverty, personal violence or lack of empowerment.
Proyecto Mamá will create a website with an “asset map” of support services. The map will tell the story of where resources exist and also where there are holes. “Research shows us that the mental health of mothers has an impact on generations to come,” says Edwards. “At the close of this grant, I want to have a clear picture of the assets and needs of our community.”
“Research shows us that the mental health of mothers has an impact on generations to come,” says Edwards. “At the close of this grant, I want to have a clear picture of the assets and needs of our community.”