Generate Perinatal Behavioral Health Initiative
Improving Behavioral Health Screening and Access to Treatment for Pregnant and New Moms
Maternal behavioral health issues, such as depression, anxiety and addiction, directly contribute to poor outcomes in infants. Pregnant women with behavioral health issues face an increased risk of obstetric complications and preterm labor that can threaten their lives and the lives of their babies. Maternal depression in mothers with low access to resources and treatment is also linked directly to lower infant birth weight, higher rates of malnutrition and stunting, infectious illness, and hospital admission.
In St. Louis in particular, we face high levels of depression and stress in women, a lack of appropriate behavioral health services offerings, and under diagnosis in pregnant and new moms.
Generate Health is improving maternal behavioral health to have a positive impact on our moms, children and community as a whole.
Our work in this area includes:
Our perinatal behavioral health committee is a multi-sector group that is fostering the coordination of community resources to enhance and expand behavioral health services. It focuses on identifying and aligning the region around moms’ most pressing behavioral health issues to have the greatest impact.
RESULTS SNAPSHOT: We implemented a universal system of screening, assessment and referral across four pilot sites in St. Louis. As a result, there was an 87% decrease in the number of participating patients that scored at high depression levels.
PERINATAL RESOURCE NETWORK
Our research has shown that women with behavioral health needs who live in poverty are consumed with trying to provide a stable environment for themselves and their families. This makes it difficult for them to participate in clinical treatment. To support their needs, we are launching a Perinatal Resource Network of health care providers and organizations providing behavioral health screening, referral and support services for pregnant women and new moms. This network takes a shared data system and holistic case management approach that will connect moms with housing, transportation, jobs, healthy food and childcare support services, so they can more successfully participate in treatment. Fostering this level of coordination among resources is enhancing, expanding and make the best use of the systems of care available in St. Louis.
We regularly hold professional development workshops designed to increase awareness of maternal behavioral health issues in the medical and support services communities. These workshops inform local providers of the latest evidence-based best practices, build awareness of behavioral health needs in the community, and help build critical relationships and collaboration among attendees.
RESULTS SNAPSHOT: Almost 300 people attended our Working Together trainings and reported a strong increase in their knowledge on maternal mental health issues.
We monitor for legislation and policies that can help improve maternal behavioral health and mobilize the region to support them.