Women’s Mental Health Expert Interview: Marelin Dost, LICSW

Date Posted

February 24, 2022

Author

Photo of Marelin Vergara Dost, LICSW

As part of our Women’s Mental Health Educational Series, we are presenting expert opinions on the subject of women’s mental health. This interview is with Marelin Dost, LICSW. Ms. Dost is a licensed independent clinical social worker who earned her Master’s degree in social work from Bridgewater State University. She provides a non-judgmental, supportive, and identity-affirming space for the clients that seek her services. Among her specialties, she helps families work through conflict and offers trauma-informed therapeutic support.

Why do you think it’s important to focus on women’s mental health?

There is societal pressure and socialization for women to be caretakers, be strong, and push through feelings to complete day-to-day responsibilities. This sets up a situation where women are unable to rest or have time to take care of themselves. In a world where so much is unknown and productivity is revered, many women can suffer from mental health challenges in silence. This experience can be lonely and can begin to increase the risk for comorbidity of mental and physical health challenges. If mental health was talked about openly, many women would see they are not alone. They could find help to manage their mental health challenges.

What barriers do women face when addressing issues such as major depressive disorder and postpartum depression?

Some barriers that exist when addressing issues such as major depressive disorder and postpartum depression include being dismissed by loved ones and/or medical providers. Women are the experts of their thoughts, feelings, and bodies and should be taken seriously if they are struggling with mental health challenges. Mental health challenges can be a lonely experience and if women are being dismissed by medical or mental health providers these experiences can intensify that feeling. Additionally, other barriers can include not having access to information about warning signs/symptoms and/or where or who to go for help.

Based on your experience, what is needed so that women of color have access to culturally-relevant and community-based mental health care? 

We need providers who are committed to learning many interventions to tailor mental health experiences to women of color (WOC). In particular, WOC should have access to interventions that include community and supportive environments that increase their empowerment in their health journey and increase engagement in rest and joy. From a broader perspective, an investment in education to increase the number of WOC going into the mental health field would also help increase access to culturally-relevant and community-based mental health care. Lastly, we need providers who are committed to understanding how systems of oppression and economic challenges can worsen the mental health of WOC and who support policy change that can help combat these systems.

How can spouses, partners, and other family members support women who are experiencing a mental health condition?

They can support by aiding in finding therapists and other providers. They can also help by reminding them they are not alone and lowering expectations of productivity and increasing rest or delegation of work. A tip would be to do things together that support rest and self-care. Additionally, family caregivers should also find their own support system because one cannot pour from an empty cup.