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Providence launches mental health program for new and expecting mothers

UPDATED: Mon., March 14, 2022

Providence is launching a new program – the first of its kind in the Inland NW – that will offer mental health treatment to new and expecting mothers.  (Associated Press)
Providence is launching a new program – the first of its kind in the Inland NW – that will offer mental health treatment to new and expecting mothers. (Associated Press)

Becoming a new mom can be a stressful experience, both physically and mentally.

That stress can lead to diagnoses like postpartum depression, which one in nine new mothers will experience in the United States.

Providence is launching a new intensive outpatient mental health program to help combat postpartum depression and additional mental health impacts for new and expecting mothers in the Inland Northwest.

The Perinatal RISE Program offers group and individual therapy for those who might have mental health diagnoses before getting pregnant or for those who experience new stresses that come with becoming pregnant or a new parent.

More than 400,000 infants are born to depressed mothers in the U.S. each year, according to research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

That makes “perinatal depression the most underdiagnosed obstetric complication in America,” research from 2010 says.

The Perinatal RISE program is attempting to combat this, with intensive group and individual therapy and resources for new mothers. Participants would attend the program three to four days per week, for a few hours each day. The program lasts six to eight weeks.

The program is the first of its kind in the Inland Northwest, said Kristin Reiter, the RISE program manager.

The needs for mental health treatment during the perinatal period have largely gone unaddressed in the area, beyond a few individual therapists who offer specific services, Reiter said.

“That was shocking to me because I think there’s a lot of stigma about being a new mom,” Reiter said.

The RISE program is for people experiencing depression, anxiety, bipolar or personality disorders prior to becoming pregnant. It is also be a service for new moms who might need support anew when they become pregnant.

Pregnant women and new moms are allowed to participate in the program for up to a year after their baby is born.

Someone who has never experienced a mental health condition may experience them as a result of the change in hormones and circumstances that come with pregnancy.

“This is such a vulnerable time in a woman’s life that anxiety and depression is more prevalent in that time,” Reiter said.

The goal of the program is to prepare women to leave after a couple months with a treatment plan paired with the ability to access therapy or a lower level of mental health support , through support groups or other means. The RISE program coordinates with a patient’s provider to ensure a smooth transition.

Reiter said women will participate in three groups a day : one for behavior activation, which includes some sort of physical activity such as walking or yoga; another for psycho-education and learning how to be a new parent; and lastly a group for learning tools to manage their mental health after they leave the program.

Patients will also have individual therapy, as well as access to a prescriber, who can ensure they are receiving medication and treatment they need .

New mothers are encouraged to bring their infants to the sessions, which are held in the afternoon.

“The baby is a part of their treatment and healing rather than being a distraction or barrier,” Reiter said.

Providence began enrolling patients in the program in late February, and they can take up to eight clients at a time. There is currently no wait list for this program.

People can refer themselves to the program for an assessment, and OB/GYNs, primary care physicians and therapists can all refer patients for an assessment as well.

The Perinatal RISE program accepts all health insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is primarily funded by the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, with additional support from Report for America and members of the Spokane community. These stories can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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