White mother holding white baby

Hiding in the Shadows of Stereotypes: The Stigma of Maternal Mental Illness

Perinatal mental health disorders are the number one complication of childbirth and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk factors associated with these disorders. Yet these disorders remain undiagnosed and untreated often due to the stigma of mental illness for the birthing person. The powerful social constructs of mentally ill mothers leave women in the shadows of society, preventing many from receiving critical care. This presentation shines a light on the three elements of stigma formation, and how to implement strategies for addressing institutionalized stigma in your community and workplace

March 24, 2022 | 12pm PST/ 2pm CST/ 3pm EST

Register Here

About Dr. Walker Ladd

Previously a professional modern dancer with both a BA and MFA in dance from UCLA, Walker returned to school to receive an MA in clinical psychology from Antioch University Seattle. Following the traumatic childbirth and subsequent postpartum depression of her son in 2000, Walker dedicated herself to maternal mental health advocacy and research literacy, working as a certified birth doula (CD, DONA), and serving as the perinatal mental health editor for Lamaze International’s Science and Sensibility, before returning to school to receive her Ph.D. in psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.

Since her doctorate in 2014, Dr. Ladd has taught research methods and mentored doctoral students through the dissertation process while conducting her own research on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Working across multiple qualitative methodologies, Walker seeks a deeper understanding of the subjective experience of mood and anxiety disorders during the perinatal period. Her book, Transformed by postpartum depression: Women’s stories of trauma and growth (Praeclarus, 2020), was based on her grounded theory study of the traumatic and nature of untreated perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and subsequent posttraumatic growth for 25 women. Additionally, she has conducted research on the stigma of mental illness for new mothers with bipolar disorder (Ladd, 2018), the meaning of postpartum depression for women in later life (Ladd, 2021), and the lived experience of postpartum anxiety during COVID-19 (Ladd & De Decker, 2021 in press). She recently received a TCS Saybrook Globe Grant to create a micro-credential with colleagues from two TCS Affiliates, Pacific Oaks College and the Cornerstone Institute in South Africa. The four-week self-paced micro-credential Maternal Mental Health: Community Awareness and Global Action will launch in May 2022.

Dr. Ladd has been a faculty member of Saybrook University since 2018 and is currently full-time faculty in the Department of Research. In addition to designing research curricula, Walker teaches qualitative research methods, including hermeneutic phenomenology, narrative inquiry, autoethnography, heuristic inquiry, constructivist and Straussian grounded theory, and interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Walker serves on many dissertation committees.

Walker is a full member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), the Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology (SQIP), the Society of Humanistic Psychology (Division 32), the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IATA), and the Marcé International Society for Perinatal Mental Health. She was the founding President of PATTCh (Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth) with Penny Simkin and served on the President’s Advisory Council for DONA (Doulas of North America).