CarePlus NJ’s Maternal & Family Center to Address Black Maternal Health in Virtual Panel Discussion

Paramus, N.J. (April 16, 2024) – CarePlus NJ, Inc. (“CarePlus NJ”), a pioneer in integrated primary and behavioral health services for adults and children, announces its Maternal & Family Center will host a free virtual panel discussion to address perinatal mental health for Black women and families before, during, and after pregnancy.

Titled “Elevating Voices-Inspiring Reflection, Advocacy, and Change," the event will bring together experts in maternal healthcare to raise awareness of the Black maternal mortality crisis and ways to prevent the inadequate care and unnecessary loss of black mothers and babies in our communities. The free event is open to the public and will take place via Zoom on April 19, 2024, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Those interested in attending can register here.

Nearly 40% of Black mothers experience prenatal or postpartum mental health issues, whereas only 13 to 19% of mothers in general experience mental health issues. Despite experiencing mental health issues at twice the rate of white mothers, Black mothers are twice as unlikely to receive treatment for maternal mental health issues due to factors such as fear of stigma, involvement of child welfare services and financial barriers.

Healthcare professionals and supporters of Black maternal health attending the event will gain a deeper understanding of the healthcare disparities Black mothers face and the solutions needed to address these issues.

Expert panelists include:

Wanda Irving, MPA, Co-founder of Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project

Kanika Harris, PhD MMH, Director of Maternal and Child Health-Black Women's Initiative

Dr. Azer Alizade FACOG, MBA, Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Minimally Invasive Surgery, All Health Medical Group

LaDeana Artis, LCSW, PMH-C, Senior Director Clinical Services, Maternal & Family Center, CarePlus NJ

Tanisha Essanason, Marriage and Family Therapist with Black Women’s Wellness Co.

“Maternal mental illness is the number one cause of death in pregnant and postpartum women in the United States,” said Melissa Oparaku, Vice President of Outpatient Services at CarePlus NJ. “But for Black women, the maternal mortality rate is over four times higher than the rate for white women. Our goal is to unite maternal health experts from multiple disciplines to raise awareness and challenge implicit biases in laws, policies, institutions, and providers. In addressing these biases we can improve access to necessary care, provide more adequate treatment and greatly reduce the unnecessary loss of black mothers and babies."

Registration is now open for the free panel discussion event. To register visit: For questions or additional information, please contact

About CarePlus NJ

For more than 45 years, CarePlus NJ, Inc. has been a pioneer in integrated primary and behavioral health services for adults and children in northern New Jersey. Based in Paramus, New Jersey, CarePlus NJ is committed to providing the most comprehensive integrated treatment options through 80+ programs designed to meet the full spectrum of health and wellness needs for adults and children in the communities it serves. Specializing in acute care, CarePlus NJ provides immediate, high-quality health services and support programs for individuals in crisis. Nationally ranked for excellence in customer satisfaction by the Mental Health Corporations of America, CarePlus NJ is mission-driven, ensuring that anyone who needs it has access to specialized care. To learn more about CarePlus NJ and its wide range of programs and services, visit

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