American Psychiatric Association Releases New Educational Resources on Maternal Mental Health
Materials Are Culmination of Effort to Improve Care for Pregnant People
Washington, D.C. — Annually, one in five childbearing persons in the United States experience a mental health or substance use disorder before, during, or after pregnancy.1-3 To ensure psychiatrists and mental health clinicians are best positioned to respond to this need, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), with support of the CDC Foundation, has released a series of educational materials for addressing perinatal mental health in its Psychiatric Toolkit. The toolkit includes eight fact sheets for clinicians and patients, a white paper and a four-part webinar series covering this understudied and underserved area of mental health. These materials can be accessed at APA’s Perinatal Mental Health website.
The white paper provides a comprehensive picture and understanding of the barriers to screening and treatment of perinatal mental and substance use disorders. It underscores that mental health and substance use disorders are common in the pregnant population, but are largely undiagnosed, untreated or undertreated. It calls for revisions to academic and continuing education curricula to improve competency and confidence within the behavioral care workforce for treating this population. It examines the care of vulnerable populations, raising issues such as cultural competency and lack of access.
“The United States is behind on maternal health care, period,” said APA President Petros Levounis, M.D., M.A. “And we cannot, as we begin to try to fix this problem, forget about mental health. As suicide is a leading cause of mortality in the postpartum period, it is indeed, a matter of life and death. That’s why this work with the CDC Foundation has been so important and we are hopeful that in helping health care professionals, we will in turn save lives.”
A 21-member advisory panel of psychiatrists and other mental health clinicians with expertise in maternal mental health worked on the project. “We hope that this project helps everyone understand that if the pregnant person’s mental health is neglected, the overall family health will also suffer,” said Diana E. Clarke, Ph.D., APA’s managing director of research and senior epidemiologist/research statistician.
This Mental Health Needs Assessment in the Management of Perinatal Psychiatric Disorders is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $447,209 funded by the CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.
- Doering, P. L. and R. B. Stewart (1978). "The extent and character of drug consumption during pregnancy." JAMA 239(9): 843-846.
- Gavin, N. I., et al. (2005). "Perinatal depression: a systematic review of prevalence and incidence." Obstet Gynecol 106(5 Pt 1): 1071-1083.
- Fawcett, E. J., et al. (2019). "The Prevalence of Anxiety Disorders During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period: A Multivariate Bayesian Meta-Analysis." J Clin Psychiatry 80(4): 1181.
American Psychiatric Association
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit www.psychiatry.org.