Perinatal Behavioral Health Initiative

by | May 24, 2021 | Blog, News

Perinatal Behavioral Health Initiative (PBHI) is a mouthful, and unless you work in the field, it might not hold much meaning for you. PBHI is a network of providers and community members that has been funded by the Mental health Board (MHB) for almost 10 years. With 20+ partners , our main focus has been to screen pregnant people and new mothers in the City of St. Louis for behavioral health concerns, using the Universal Protocol and warm handoff referral. Our Universal Protocol was developed in collaboration with our partners and provides guidance as to when to screen expectant and new mothers for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. When a family needs support, our network is there to provide referrals and resources that help support the whole family. Our network of providers goes above and beyond by personally introducing families to referral partners, rather than simply handing them a list of phone numbers.

In 2020 alone, the PBHI network served 987 people, referring 437 to case management for issues with their mental health, housing, and substance use, among others.  The impact was substantial – 69% of those referred to case management saw a reduction in symptoms or improvement in daily functioning.  Also in 2020, the focus on outcomes shifted from individual depression scores to collective impact on community.  This shift in approach has allowed for a more holistic approach to providing care for our region’s Black pregnant and parenting families.

As our funding with MHB sunsets over the upcoming year, PBHI is in a transformative phase where we will begin to grow our reach into St. Louis County and ensure our moms are receiving the care they deserve. This has happily led us down the path of leveraging our partners’ services and building a more holistic network across multiple initiatives, including safe sleep and our Home Visitation Collaborative.

In the coming months, we will share more about the Bloom Network – the bridging of PBHI, safe sleep, and the Home Visitation Collaborative — whose purpose will be to provide a coordinated service delivery network designed to meet the needs and perspectives of Black pregnant and parenting families, while using a racial equity lens.   With partner and community input, we plan to utilize the next year to build a system that is easily accessible so all families can receive the wraparound services they need.

If you would like more information, please reach out to Carie Mellenthin at or Aja Welch at


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