The United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality among wealthy nations. An analysis by the medical journal, The Lancet, found that the U.S. has a maternal mortality rate of 26.2 per 100,000 live births, more than three times greater than Canada and the overall average for Western Europe. Untreated Perinatal Mental Health disorders are a significant contributor to maternal mortality – and can increase the risk of suicide, maternal and infant death, and sickness.
In 2019, Postpartum Support International and The Reilly Group conducted an in-depth analysis of the available data and convened national leaders to develop a national Strategic Action Plan to ensure perinatal mental health is a national priority.
The plan, Mind the Gap: A Strategic Roadmap to Address America’s Silent Health Crisis, lays out five shared priorities to advance Perinatal Mental Health. Each priority is supported by research, prior convenings, and the work of leading national and state organizations
Priority Area #1 – Awareness and Help Seeking:
Raise public awareness of Perinatal Mental Health, including greater understanding of the importance of prevention, recognition, and treatment, and how to seek help and support for mothers and families.
Priority Area #2 – Screening and Follow-up:
Ensure Perinatal Mental Health screening is universal, standard, and routinely provided as part of health care delivery. Also, ensure that a positive screen includes follow-up diagnosis, referral, and access to treatment, during both pregnancy and postpartum, across all health care sectors.
Priority Area #3 – Access and Coverage:
Improve public and private access to and coverage of comprehensive prevention and integrated Perinatal Mental Health care and treatment.
Priority Area #4 – Education and Training:
Provide Perinatal Mental Health training for health care professionals, including education on screening, referral, treatment, and support services for mothers and families.
Priority Area #5 – Clinical and Prevention Research:
Support and promote population-based research and evidence-based prevention interventions that are culturally relevant and inclusive to underserved populations and communities.
Postpartum Support International is proud to be working with a coalition of partners to advance these priorities and turn the tide on this national crisis. The Coalition stands for increasing research and funding and improving awareness and access to prevention, education, screening, diagnosis, treatment and support services for pregnant and postpartum women and their families.
For more information about how to get engaged and contribute to advancing the Mind the Gap priorities, join the movement now.