Community Outreach: Early Maternal Mental Health Screening in Medical and Midwifery Clinics

The Why:

While many women experience some mild mood changes during or after the birth of a child, 20% of women experience more significant symptoms of depression or anxiety. ‘Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders’ (PMADs) is an umbrella term that encompasses maternal mental health issues during pregnancy and up to one year postpartum. PMADs are a leading complication of childbirth in the US, however, they are the most underdiagnosed obstetric complications in America with more than 75 percent of new mothers remaining undiagnosed.

The How:

In order to address this major gap in diagnosis and treatment, the Shaw Institute places qualified clinical interns in medical practices to provide 4-week mental health checks to all postpartum women. Using a combination of validated measures and biopsychosocial interviews, clinicians provide a supportive presence and are able to normalize challenges, assess for symptoms and vulnerabilities, and provide appropriate community referrals as needed. We also provide assistance during prenatal visits when medical practitioners believe that their patients would benefit from a mental wellness check, and offer preliminary assessment, screening and ad-hoc support. For people struggling with perinatal mood or anxiety issues and who lack the resources necessary to connect with private therapists in the community, interns are able to provide low-fee specialized psychotherapy via our partnership with Postpartum Wellness Center Boulder.

The Who:

While pregnant and postpartum biological mothers have been the primary focus of assessment and intervention efforts thus far, our work in clinics has also afforded us the opportunity to interface with fathers and non-carrying mothers, and we have been able to provide appropriate assessment, referrals, and treatment that meet the needs of various family configurations. Shaw Institute plans to continue expanding the scope of services to address a diverse spectrum of need in our community. By offering these integrative assessments and low-fee counseling possibilities, Shaw Institute ensures that fewer people who are struggling fall through the cracks, and makes certain that every person receives the support she or he needs to successfully transition into parenthood.

We are looking to expand our partnerships in 2018. Interested ObGyn, pediatric, and midwifery clinics please contact emily@mlshawinstitute.org.