May is Mental Health Month, and the first week is International Maternal Mental Health Week. Advocates, women’s health care providers, behavioral health specialists, and women who have experienced a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) brought attention to this important but often overlooked suite of illnesses through traditional and social media outlets. Using the hashtag #MaternalMHMatters, organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Postpartum Support International raised awareness to break the stigma surrounding PMADs and help pregnant women and mothers obtain the support they need. PMADs are the most common medical complication related to pregnancy and childbirth, with up to 20% of new and expecting mothers experiencing anxiety, depression, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and in very rare cases, postpartum psychosis. The incidence of PMADs among women facing multiple adverse social determinants of health such as low income, unstable housing, and domestic violence can range from 25-40%.
GNYHA is in the third year of the Maternal Depression Learning Collaborative, which it directs in conjunction with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the CUNY Center for Innovation in Mental Health. Through the Collaborative, GNYHA members are implementing screening protocols for mothers in the prenatal and postpartum settings, and connecting the mothers who screen positive to effective treatment. The Collaborative now comprises more than 50 individual practice sites, including OB/GYN, family health, and pediatric clinics across the New York City, lower-Hudson Valley, and Long Island region.