An Integrated Approach to Address Perinatal Mental Health Within an Obstetrics Practice.

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Outpatient perinatal care providers (one certified nurse-midwife, one nurse practitioner, and one physician assistant) at a high-volume, suburban health system in southeastern Pennsylvania developed and implemented a care model to identify and care for patients at risk for perinatal and postpartum mental health conditions. The program, Women Adjusting to Various Emotional States (WAVES), was created to bring the most up-to-date, evidence-based treatment recommendations to patients while addressing the increased demand placed on the health care system by pregnant and postpartum patients in need of psychiatric services. WAVES is a specialized program offered for anyone who is pregnant or up to one year postpartum who is struggling with mental health symptoms or concerns. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders have become one of the most prevalent pregnancy ailments, yet mental health is not always addressed during routine prenatal care visits. Common obstacles to patients obtaining mental health care during pregnancy include lack of access, clinician gaps in knowledge, and stigma surrounding diagnoses. WAVES offers a method to empower perinatal providers with the education and tools to address this need. The model outlines how to appropriately assess, diagnose, manage, or refer patients for mental health services. Patient feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and this novel care model shows great promise for the future of perinatal care. The development of integrated programs like WAVES may be a valuable resource to help combat the perinatal mental health epidemic.




Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

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