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Telehealth Ensured Access to Perinatal Mental Healthcare, But Care Gaps Remain

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By Victoria Bailey

Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, which can occur during or after pregnancy, have been linked to poorer birth outcomes and problems with infants’ social and emotional development.

Psychosocial stress and low social support are two risk factors for these disorders. The COVID-19 pandemic led to increased social isolation and disrupted social interaction, which raised particular concerns for pregnant patients and their mental health.

When the pandemic called for limited in-person interaction, the Healthy Expectations Perinatal Mental Health Program at a tertiary care children’s hospital in the Rocky Mountain Region transitioned its services to a fully virtual model to ensure continuation of care.

The program offered parent-child early relational assessments, a maternal postpartum peer support group, a mother-infant dyadic group, infant developmental therapy, and mothers group therapy.

The health system was able to successfully transition each therapy service to a telehealth setting, except for the infant developmental therapy.Researchers looked at the health outcomes of patients who received therapy via telehealth between March 15 and December 15, 2020, and compared them to the outcomes of patients who participated in the in-person model between March 15 and December 15, 2019.During the pre-pandemic period, the program received initial outreach calls from 147 patients. This […]

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