One in five California women suffers from depression, anxiety, or both while pregnant or after giving birth, negatively impacting the mother and the child. Despite this high prevalence of mental health issues, few women receive treatment. CHCF is working with partners to better understand this issue and to explore innovative, practical solutions for delivering mental health care to California’s mothers and expectant mothers in need.
Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are the most common medical complication affecting women during pregnancy and after childbirth. They include prenatal and postpartum depression and/or anxiety, and, in extreme cases, postpartum psychosis. According to the Maternal and Infant Health Assessment (MIHA) conducted by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), 21% of pregnant and postpartum women in California are affected. The prevalence is estimated to be even higher in some populations. For example, one in four African American and Latina mothers in the state reports depressive symptoms, and so do as many as half of all mothers living in poverty.
Left undetected and untreated, these conditions can lead to negative health outcomes for the mother, and can negatively affect the mother-child bond and the child’s long-term physical, emotional, and developmental health. Additionally, the financial cost of untreated maternal mental health conditions can be significant (for example, more use of emergency care services, higher rates of absenteeism at work).
Fortunately, these conditions are treatable, and early detection can make a significant, positive impact. CHCF is currently funding projects to better understand maternal mental health care in California and to explore ways that it can be improved. A summary of the projects that are part of CHCF’s current maternal mental health portfolio is provided below.
Background and Landscape
CHCF is funding Hollywood, Health and Society, a program of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, to provide materials that help screenwriters more accurately depict maternity care on television and other entertainment programming. (In process)
CHCF and The California Endowment supported 2020 Mom in spearheading a statewide task force on maternal mental health in California, which produced a report with recommendations. 2020 Mom is now working to implement the recommendations with stakeholders. (April 2017)
This CHCF Almanac report describes the state of maternity care in the state, including available statewide data that relates to maternal mental health. (June 2016)
Delivery System Improvement
With the Los Angeles County Health Agency and the University of Southern California, a pilot program is testing the use of secure emails in electronic consultations between reproductive psychiatrists and general psychiatrists to improve management of pregnant and postpartum women with severe, persistent mental illness (SPMI). (In process)
Researchers from the University of Washington and the Advancing Integrated Mental Health Solutions Center, in collaboration with OCHIN and the University of Pennsylvania, are assessing the impact and cost-effectiveness of provider-to-provider longitudinal remote consultation (LRC) for the management of perinatal depression in community health centers and other primary care practices. The National Institute of Mental Health is the main funder. CHCF is supporting four (of the approximately 20 participating) sites based in California: ChapCare Medical Health Center, Central Neighborhood Health Foundation, Alliance Medical Center, and Open Door Community Health Center. (In process)
CHCF’s maternal mental health work is part of a CHCF-wide focus on behavioral health: building integration essentials (data transparency and data sharing, new financing models, and policy solutions) and supporting care transformation, including complex care integration and integration initiatives in the Medi-Cal program. CHCF is also participating in a statewide effort to address the opioid epidemic, a component of which focuses on increasing access to integrated addiction treatment.