Members in Action Case Study: Perinatal Depression Outreach Program

Sinai Hospital of Baltimore | Baltimore


Services specific to perinatal mental health are sparse in our state, and those that exist are often difficult to access. In 2003, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore launched the Perinatal Depression Outreach Program (PDOP) to improve infant and maternal well-being through the identification and treatment of maternal mental health struggles. The perinatal social worker, physicians, and nurses on the post-partum unit designed protocols to increase awareness and treatment of depression among new mothers, including voluntary screening of new mothers using a validated depression screening instrument that combined the mental health assessment from the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale with the social risk factor assessment from the Postpartum Depression Predictors Inventory.

With the launch of PDOP, Sinai became the first Maryland hospital to provide post-hospitalization services facilitating access to mental health treatment and social support for mothers at risk for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD)s. PDOP remains unique in Maryland in providing free services to high-risk mothers who may otherwise not have access to care. It is the only program of its kind in the Baltimore area.

To reach the most women, and to provide a forum for education, referral, and peer socialization, the social worker continues to offer a group intervention for clients. Group is offered once a week within the hospital, providing support and education to women adjusting to the post-partum period. Sessions focus on assisting women in gaining an understanding of PMADs, identification of symptoms, discussion of available treatment modalities, and teaching/practice of new coping skills. Group activities encourage self-awareness and discussion regarding symptoms, facilitate social interaction and support among postpartum women, and coach struggling new mothers in their interaction with their babies, particularly when bonding and attachment seem impaired. Other topics include parenting; creating a plan for transition and adjustment to new baby, including taking care of self while attending to newborn; and the importance of accepting support and asking for help.

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