Resources for Perinatal Mental Health

One in five pregnant or postpartum people has a diagnosed mood or anxiety disorder. Depression is the most common complication related to childbearing. We know that depression and other perinatal mental health conditions can negatively affect health outcomes for all family members.

Montana sees more than 11,000 births per year and approximately 3,500 families impacted by perinatal mental health conditions annually.  Nationally, the cost of untreated perinatal mental health conditions is estimated to exceed $14 billion dollars annually. The Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance estimates a cost of $60 million due to lost wages and poor health outcomes for Montana mothers and babies who don’t receive necessary treatment. Efforts to improve the perinatal mental health landscape are growing in Montana. These resources include the PRISM for Moms psychiatric teleconsultation line, the Meadowlark Initiative, and the Montana Obstetrics and Maternal Supports (MOMS) program.  These statewide resources compliment the numerous community and county level resources, such as Postpartum Resource Group in Flathead County and Roots Family Collaborative in Bozeman.

To learn more about Montana’s perinatal mental health system of supports

Perinatal mental health (PMH) is essential to the health and wellbeing of birthing people, infants, children, and families. In Montana, a variety of local, county, statewide, and tribal groups are implementing programs to address this critical issue. However, there is currently no single organization that brings together these groups to advocate for and coordinate PMH services across the state. This project is the first step towards creating such a group.

You can view a timeline of selected perinatal mental health efforts here.

In February 2024, a “Strategic Framework for Perinatal Mental Health in Montana” was published. This framework was designed to guide the work of organizations and government agencies across Montana that are working to improve the lives of Montana families by addressing the landscape of care and social services that affect perinatal mental health (PMH).

In the Summer of 2022, HMHB gathered state and local level partners to discuss how to increase collaboration within the system of perinatal mental health care in Montana. The group agreed to call themselves the Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative and endorsed HMHB to gather more perspectives.  HMHB spoke with more than 100  people who are invested in PMH in Montana.  The notes from these interviews were then analyzed thematically and presented in this report.

Priorities for collaborative work identified by the interviewees include the following:

  • Among all perinatal providers and programs, increase awareness of and training for screening, referring, and treating perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).
  • Increase public awareness around PMADs and the resources available to support people and families in the perinatal period.
  • Offer care coordination for individuals experiencing PMADs that connects people to right supports at the right times and provides continuity of care between programs and providers.
  • Address social determinants of health that impact perinatal mental health including, but not limited to transportation, housing, childcare, and nutrition.
  • Increase peer-focused programming that provides group or individual support to people in the perinatal period.
  • Increase access to perinatal-specific mental health providers who are available to provide timely assessment and treatment, including psychiatrists when necessary.
  • Support culturally informed programs that serve the perinatal population through the provision and operationalization of cultural safety training, and increase diversity among providers and programming staff.

It is the hope of HMHB that a collective group of dedicated people across Montana will be able to work together to accomplish these priorities.

For Community Groups looking to improve the system of care and referrals

Montana has many supports for families in pregnancy and early childhood.  HMHB works closely with this system of supports, and their local groups, to learn and share the knowledge and skills required to effectively serve those who need support during this special time in life. We consistently hear the need to more easily be able to refer patients and clients to appropriate resources.  Many communities create resource lists to assist parents, caregivers and providers to be able to find help, when they need it. 

This toolkit (linked here) can help community groups to build a list of their community’s perinatal mental health and support specialists. HMHB worked in collaboration with the Maternal Mental Health Taskforce of the Helena Early Childhood Coalition and the Flathead Perinatal Mental Health Coalition of the Flathead Valley Early Childhood Coalition to create this resource. This toolkit offers:

  • Points of consideration (language, categories to list, etc.)
  • An example of criteria that could be adopted to create a vetted guide
  • Content to populate an online form for outreach and recruitment efforts
  • Resources and other referral lists for inspiration
  • Designed template for your use

Download our templates and fill them in with your own local resources. We have also created an infographic about PMADs that can help you build awareness in your community as you collect resources and each time you share your community’s list.

For Primary Care Providers and others who are interested in screening

Increased screening can help providers and patients identify mental health concerns and connect families to prevention and treatment. In collaboration with perinatal care providers across Montana, HMHB facilitated the creation of  a screening protocol, which helps providers:

  • Choose validated screening tools
  • Establish a screening workflow
  • Discuss mental health with patients
  • Make appropriate referrals to local services
  • Develop a screening schedule

As screening for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders becomes more common, the need to know where to go for treatment, support, and healing grows as well.

Maternal Mental Health Trainings

Below are links to the 3  maternal mental health-related training sessions that Melissa Bangs led in partnership with HMHB, ECHO (online hub and spoke model), and Billings Clinic in 2018.

The presentations range from an into to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and an overview of a psychiatrist’s approach; to screening for PMADs and many layers related to screening; and a panel discussion with a family practice physician and PMAD mental health clinician/therapist and two naturopathic physicians.

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Presented by Karen Horst MD

Perinatal Depression and Anxiety: Why Universal Screening is Critical. Presented by Gabrielle Kaufman, MA, LPCC, BC-DMT, NCC

Psycho-Neuro-Endo-Immuno Connection: It is all inter-related! A panel including Dr. Dave Lechner MD, Dr. Christine White ND, Dr. Holcomb Johnston, ND and Kate Robinett, LCPC

More Information on Mental Health

See our guidance to parents about mental health.