(GILBERT, Ariz. – Sept. 9, 2020) – Dignity Health in Arizona is now expanding a therapeutic program for pregnant and postpartum women called “Let’s Talk” thanks to a Mercy Care Community Reinvestment program grant.
Perinatal mood disorders are the number one medical complication of childbirth. Statistics show that 1 in 7 moms and 1 in 10 dads suffer from postpartum depression, but perinatal mood disorders come in many forms. Depression, anxiety, OCD, panic disorder, PTSD and psychosis can also occur during pregnancy.
Recent data from Postpartum Support International has found that perinatal mood disorders have increased by up to 30 percent as a result of the pandemic. In addition, Women’s Health Innovations of Arizona is currently reporting 1 in 3 Arizona moms are experiencing perinatal mood disorders and have a subsequent need for coaching and support.
After nearly two decades of success hosting the hospital system’s weekly Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Group, experts at Dignity Health in the East Valley identified that some women would benefit from a more intensive program.
In January 2018, Dignity Health began working with Women’s Health Innovations of Arizona to provide a therapist specializing in perinatal mood disorders to lead a therapy program called “Let’s Talk.” Mothers who participated in these intensive two-hour, expert-led sessions showed improvement in symptoms and overall outcomes. Offered five times each year at Dignity Health Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, this six-week program was free, capped at just 10 moms and required registration.
As a result of the $14,200 Mercy Community Reinvestment program grant, Dignity Health is now able to offer these support sessions online and while being mindful of the current pandemic.
“Mercy Care commends Dignity Health’s hospitals in the East Valley and Women’s Health Innovations for their important support of women after childbirth”, said Christi Lundeen, Mercy Care Chief Innovation Officer. “We are proud that our funding can help extend these classes to an online platform to ensure additional support for more new moms who may feel isolated due to the pandemic.”
Feedback from women who have benefitted from this program during the pandemic indicates the expert perspective of a therapist and realization of shared experiences are essential to helping mothers to feel less alone and more empowered throughout their healing process
“We are grateful for the funding from Mercy Care which has helped us keep this important program available for our neighbors in need during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Gia Snooks, a coordinator at Dignity Health who assists the sessions. “By shifting to a more accessible online support group format, we are able to provide additional support group therapy sessions moms who are suffering; especially those with heightened depression and anxiety symptoms as a result of the pandemic.”