Over the last decade, public awareness of the mental health challenges women face has grown tremendously, and we can say with certainty that we have succeeded in putting this important topic firmly on the medical map. Still, the field of women’s mental health faces important challenges. How can we best serve women and the clinicians who care for them as we move forward? There continue to be significant obstacles we must tackle in terms of diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric illness in women, and this continues to be particularly problematic for women who suffer from depression in the context of childbearing.
A new initiative, called the Mental Health Needs Assessment in the Management of Perinatal Psychiatric Disorders, is supported by a grant from the CDC. The APA will perform a needs assessment using focus groups of women with psychiatric and substance use disorders before, during, and up to 2 years after pregnancy and with mental health professionals who treat pregnant women. The project also plans to update and expand existing recommendations for the mental health care of pregnant and postpartum women and will work to develop a toolkit for clinicians providing perinatal psychiatric care. In addition, the APA plans to create educational and training recommendations in order to expand the number of behavioral health clinicians with the skills needed to care for this vulnerable population.
Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD
American Psychiatric Association Launches New Maternal Mental Health Effort Aimed at Identifying Clinician Training Gaps (Press Release)