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Helena hospital expands maternal mental health programs

Posted at 12:05 PM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 18:37:18-04

HELENA — St. Peter’s Health in Helena announced they were awarded $50,000 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) as part of the organization’s Cross-Sectional Innovation to Improve Rural Postpartum Mental Health Challenge.

Officials say they were one of two organizations nationwide selected to receive the funding, which will be used to support and grow the health care organization’s Taking Care of You program.

Taking Care of You aims to connect families with support during pregnancy through the first year of a baby’s life. The program offers whole family support for depression, anxiety, substance use, stress, grief and loss, and challenges with social needs like housing.

St. Peter's Health notes the program was born out of existing work done through the Meadowlark Initiative, a statewide effort funded through the Montana Healthcare Foundation that helps reach new mothers with substance use disorders and mental health concerns.

“The introduction of a new baby to a family is a transitional and transformational time,” says St. Peter’s Care Manager and maternal mental health expert Kelsey Kyle, RN.

According to Kyle, 15%-to-20% of new moms experience a perinatal mood disorder, like postpartum depression or anxiety. “Often, we’re so focused on the baby. We neglect to care for the caregivers. This program aims to ensure that caregivers are taken care of, too.”

Registered Nurse Care Managers lead the program and connect caregivers with the support, tools, and encouragement they need through one-on-one meetings and check-ins.

Most people who take part in the program are referred through their medical provider, but St. Peter's announced this is also expanding by taking referrals from other units in the hospital, as well as the state's child services.

More information on the Taking Care of You Program can be found here.