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Special Edition: Title V Technical Assistance MeetingExpand Special Edition: Title V Technical Assistance Meeting
Title V Technical Assistance Meeting

 For Mental Health, Look Beyond Mental Health

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Session: General Session, Oct. 18
Presentation Title: Promoting Perinatal Mental Health: The Massachusetts Experience
Presenter: Karin Downs, MCH Director, Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Karin Downs kicked off the plenary session with a case study of MCPAP for Moms, a program from her state. The program provides real-time, perinatal psychiatric consultation and referral for providers to prevent, identify, and manage the mental health and substance use concerns of their pregnant and postpartum patients. It is an expansion of the existing Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program (MCPAP) and works through three core components: trainings and toolkits, real-time psychiatric consultation and care coordination, and linkages with community-based resources like support groups and mental health care.

"We provide links to community supports to bring women, partners, and extended family to community sources that may or may not be related to mental health," Downs said. "For example, going to libraries for reading hour minimizes social isolation."

More than 60 percent of medical practices in Massachusetts are enrolled in MCPAP for Moms. Downs said that reflects the idea that, "if you build it, they will come." That is, by creating a program to address a need for postpartum patients, the program found its niche.

Funded through a state-line item for to the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, preventative care through MCPAP for Moms costs $11.81 a year per woman giving birth in the state. Research estimates that the cost to the health care and social service systems for not treating mood disorders is $22,000 per woman. Since one in seven women experience mood disorders but 85 percent of them do not receive treatment, effectively screening, identifying, and providing treatment for women experiencing mood disorders yield significant cost savings to society.

"No mom should be alone while dealing with postpartum depression," Downs said.