Perinatal Mental Health 101: What to Know
Welcome to the Perinatal Mental Health 101: What to Know learning pathway created by Maternal Mental Health NOW. Visit our website to find additional specialized trainings on topics like screening, suicide, and loss in the perinatal period.
Depression and anxiety during pregnancy and the postpartum period are the number one complications of childbirth. Learn how to support pregnant and postpartum persons in your workplace and/or personal life.
Throughout this six-module pathway, you will learn to:
- Describe the symptoms of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
- Describe how perinatal mental health impacts infants, children, and families.
- Explain the historical context of racism and reproductive coercion that contributes to mental health disparities and implicit bias within the healthcare system.
- Explain how trauma contributes to and/or may cue perinatal mental health conditions, and how to address risk factors.
- Identify the three most commonly utilized screening tools for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders in the perinatal period.
- Name the types of loss that new and expectant parents might experience along the reproductive journey.
As the following vignettes are based on real people and events, some of the information may cause emotional reactions. When you are ready to engage with the pathway, we encourage you to challenge yourself and be fully present with the material, as this maximizes your learning. However, please be aware of your own reactions and move, physically or emotionally, away from the training as needed.
Upon completing the pathway, you will receive a certificate of completion. Continuing Education (LMFTs, LPCCs, LCSWs, LEPs, and psychologists) and Continuing Medical Education in the form of AMA PRA Category 1 credit (MDs, DOs, RNs, NPs, and PAs) are available. We suggest you check with your state licensing board to ensure that these credits will meet your requirements. If you are seeking CMEs, please review this required accreditation and disclosure document before beginning the pathway.
For more information about this pathway, please review our FAQ.
Once completed, additional support for learners is available via free monthly virtual consultation groups and other resources provided by Maternal Mental Health NOW.
In this module, we will discuss what perinatal (pre-conception through one year postpartum) mental health is, identify some of the myths surrounding perinatal mental health and why they can be harmful to birthing people and the community. We will also explore some of the common misconceptions behind parenthood and hear from a few birthing people about the way mental health stigma has impacted their lives.
In this module, we will cover different types of perinatal mental health conditions and other issues that may co-occur such as intimate partner violence, substance use disorders, and suicidality. We will also review the importance of the caregiver/child attachment relationship and the ways in which perinatal mental health may impact a developing child and the family. We will discuss the pervasiveness of these conditions and their impact on the entire family, not just the birthing person.
In this module, we are going to dive deeper into the disparities in mental health care, including taking a look at the history of discrimination and oppression in the medical field. We will introduce the concept of cultural humility, why it's important to implement in our work, and some tips on how to do that.
In this module, we will review various aspects of trauma to consider when supporting birthing parents and their families. We will also explore how trauma impacts perinatal mental health, as well as the impact it can have on providers such as compassion fatigue.
In this module, we will review various perinatal mental health screening tools to help with diagnosis, how to employ them in a sensitive manner, and when/how to make appropriate referrals based on the results.
This information is meant to be an overview of some of the recommendations for screening for the PMADs but should not be misconstrued for a strict step-by-step procedure. It is important to consult with your agency's protocols for screening and assessment. This is meant to help inform the practice that you are already doing. How you incorporate the use of these screening tools will vary depending on your role and scope of practice.
In this module, you will learn about how often pregnancy and infant loss occurs, definitions for types of perinatal losses you may encounter in your work with families, common presentations of perinatal grief, and suggestions for how to support someone experiencing perinatal related loss and grief.
The last step of the pathway is an evaluation.