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Rural Health Information Hub

Models Addressing Maternal Mental Health

A variety of mood disorders can arise around the time of childbirth. The two most common disorders are perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD) and postpartum depression (PPD). PMAD and PPD affect 15-21% of all pregnant and postpartum women in the U.S. and have the strongest evidence base for programs and interventions.

PMAD and PPD can have adverse effects on the woman, as well as her infant and family, if not identified and treated in a timely manner. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reported that counseling interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) during and after pregnancy could be effective in successfully preventing PPD and PMAD.

Examples of Programs Addressing Maternal Mental Health

Program Clearinghouse Examples

Considerations for Implementation

Task shifting (redistributing healthcare delivery tasks among healthcare staff to maximize human resources), telehealth, and other remote methods (such as phone, texting, or online support groups) of perinatal mental healthcare delivery are becoming more common in rural communities where resources are limited. Task shifting provides opportunities to improve access to mental healthcare in rural communities. There are some recognized limitations and concerns — such as confidentiality and increased burden to staff — that require further study. Tele-maternal health as a method of perinatal mental healthcare delivery has been received favorably by most pregnant and new mothers, but one study found most mothers would opt for in-person therapy, if available. Other forms of remote support have identified benefits and opportunities for improvement. For example, an online support forum was found to be effective, but users reported needing added support. Text messaging was found to be an inexpensive, well-accepted form of complementary support to individuals experiencing perinatal mood disorders, but an ineffective source of primary support due to its impersonal nature and opportunity for misunderstanding.

Resources to Learn More

Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
Mapping System
An interactive map that allows users to identify local treatment facilities addressing substance use/addiction and/or mental health concerns across the U.S.
Organization(s): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

MCPAP for Moms Obstetric Provider Toolkit
Assessment, screening, and treatment resources for perinatal care providers when identifying and treating mental health disorders in pre- and postpartum women.
Organization(s): Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program (MCPAP)

Postpartum Depression Toolkit
Designed for healthcare providers offering information on screening and diagnosis, treatment options, tips for follow-up and monitoring, and educational resources for patients. Includes Spanish language versions.
Organization(s): American Academy of Family Physicians