Kent State’s Spirit of Motherhood Program receives $100,000 grant to fund research program for Black mothers, children

Zaria Johnson, Editor-In-Chief

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield funded a $100,000 grant to the university’s Spirit of Motherhood program to further assist Black mothers and their children in Northeast Ohio, according to a Monday press release.


Founded in 2021 by Kent State psychology professor Angela Neal-Barnett Ph.D, the Spirit of Motherhood program screens and treats Black expectant mothers for post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic stress “with the goal of reducing symptoms that impact the health of mothers and babies,” the press release stated.

Professor Angela Neal-Barnett


The “multigenerational intervention program” aims to reduce trauma and stress symptoms in Black mothers through “community-based participatory research” according to the press release. This in turn reduces symptoms that contribute to preterm birth rates and infant mortality rates.


“Too often, post-traumatic stress disorder among Black pregnant women goes undiagnosed and untreated,” Neal-Barnett said in the press release. “Chronic stress and trauma experienced by pregnant mothers play critical roles in infant mortality. If we can reduce those things, we can reduce the rates of preterm births and infant mortality.”


The program offers musical interventions that allow mothers and children to practice coping skills that better allow them to regulate stress and other emotions in Cuyahoga and Summit counties.


The Anthem grant will allow Neal-Barnett to recruit more interventionists, and serve up to 20 additional mothers and 40 additional preschool-aged children.


Research conducted at Kent State, which received an R1 Carnegie Classification in February, led to the discovery that untreated PTSD and chronic stress in Black mothers is a large contributor to the high mortality rates among Black babies, according to the press release.


“Infant mortality rates in Northeast Ohio are three to five times higher for Black babies than white babies,” the press release stated, “an alarming statistic that is an issue across the country but particularly prevalent in this part of the state.”

Zaria Johnson is editor-in-chief. Contact her at [email protected].