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September 25, 2023

Among the many consequences of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the increase in mental health challenges has generally gone under-reported. While many Americans were infected by the COVID virus, the spread of COVID has also caused widespread psychological distress and increased mental health symptoms, including depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress diagnoses in the general population. These symptoms have been especially pronounced in women, and especially among new parents.

Research suggests that 1 in 5 mothers experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders or PMAD.  Although any parent can develop PMADs, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders disproportionately affect women of color, causing 1 in 3 to suffer. These disorders can manifest as depression, sadness, decreased energy, panic attacks, obsessions, and more. PMADs that are left untreated can have adverse and long-lasting consequences on the mother and the baby.

Baptist Health Jacksonville launches maternal mental health and wellness program, The Motherhood SpaceTo address these challenges, Baptist Health Jacksonville recently launched a maternal mental health and wellness program, The Motherhood Space. The AVDF-funded program supports mothers experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, often referred to as postpartum depression.

“What we found is there’s really not a lot of maternal mental health support going on in our area. So that really highlights the need for us to provide this valuable resource to the community,” said Terrie Andrews, vice president of behavioral health at Baptist Health, in a recent Jax Today article.

The new maternal health program has three components. The first provides continuing medical education for physicians that equips them to identify risk factors and symptoms of PMADs so that they refer patients to The Motherhood Space. The second component is a free video series available to the community that provides access to education, skills, and support on a variety of topics related to maternal mental health. The third component is an outpatient program that provides emotional and behavioral support to expectant and new mothers through therapeutic treatment and medical evaluation. Participants in the outpatient program attend activities three days a week for up to three weeks.

To help ensure mothers in need of maternal mental health support receive support regardless of their socioeconomic status, AVDF awarded Baptist Health a $300,000 grant to provide scholarships for mothers who are uninsured or whose insurance doesn’t cover program participation. The program is currently taking patients.

For more information about The Motherhood Space program, click here. To read the full Jax Today feature about the program, click here.

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