Holding the Whole Person: Perinatal Women’s Perspectives on the Integrated Infant Mental Health Care Model in Obstetrical Care during COVID-19 Pandemic

Author(s): Johnson A, Hoffman Ch, Julian M, Bengal C, Issa M, Kenneally M, Harris SD, Rosenblum KL, Muzik M

For many women, the perinatal experience can be a tumultuous period of rapid change and impactful personal, family, and work life events that put them at risk for poor mental health and other adverse outcomes. This is of particular concern for Black and Indigenous people and People of Color (BIPOC) who experience a disproportionate burden of adverse maternal health outcomes. These outcomes are exacerbated by racial trauma, economic disadvantage, and the recent COVID-19 & social justice double pandemic, which manifests as the current maternal health crisis. Heightened awareness amplifies the call for accessible, reverent care that centers mothers and their infants’ comprehensive physical and mental health needs and offers them complete and seamless support. Moreover, conditions crystalized during the COVID-19 public health crisis reinforce the need for trusted, reliable, community-informed psychosocial support. The integrated mental health approach may address the identified needs and foster integral positive exchange. This study presents a qualitative evaluation of a comprehensive integrated mental health intervention delivered in prenatal care in an urban setting serving primarily BIPOC women. Mothers were asked to share impressions and ideas on obstetrical and integrated mental health care received in context of current personal, social, and environmental circumstances. Insights reflect that this behavioral health care can constitute vital positive intergenerational support and help to identify key components for culturally responsive perinatal mental health care.

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