Family Connects Universal Home Visiting Model Supports Maternal Mental Health

The perinatal period is often described as a time of joy and hopeful expectation for mothers and families of newborns. The mounting pressure for mothers to display excitement and happiness during this time is enormous for some. It is no surprise that mothers of newborns often feel alone and experience increased sadness and low mood. Mental health challenges are very common and can impact any mother or expecting mother, regardless of background, during the perinatal period.

During Mental Health Awareness Month, Family Connects International highlights the importance of maternal mental health and well-being. Mental health disorders in mothers, such as mental health conditions and substance use disorders are major factors contributing to maternal deaths. In 2022, the CDC reported that over 80% of perinatal deaths were preventable. 23% of perinatal deaths are linked to mental health conditions including feelings of despair, restlessness, or substance abuse, which are the most significant problems associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period, affecting one-fifth of women. According to the CDC, one in eight women experience postnatal depression.

Though mental health conditions related to the perinatal period are not completely preventable, they can be managed, making recovery possible when symptoms of depression are detected, and mothers are provided with the resources needed to address their concerns.

Maternal Mental Health Warning Signs

During a Family Connects nurse home visit, registered nurses examine infants and assess mothers for needs and concerns. When a mother shares that she has been experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or any mental health condition, Family Connects’ registered nurses address the need by connecting her to local resources that will support and help her on her path to recovery.

Some risk factors for maternal mental health conditions are:

  • History of mental health issues
  • Family history of depression and anxiety, or any other health conditions
  • Chronic health issues
  • Relationship challenges during the perinatal time

During the postpartum period, mental health conditions may interfere with a mother’s ability to bond with her newborn, which is critical during this time. Women with postpartum depression may experience long-term sadness, lack of pleasure or disinterest in activities they usually enjoy, negative thoughts about their newborns or themselves, suicidal ideations, or other signs related to mental health challenges. It is important to understand the signs of perinatal mental health conditions and to connect mothers to resources to address their needs to make a full recovery.

Our mission is to ensure every family of a newborn receives equitable care within three weeks of birth. The Family Connects Universal Home Visiting Model addresses common challenges and concerns, including physical and mental health conditions. It also connects mothers to local support systems and resources to meet their needs. During a Family Connects nurse home visit, personalized plans and goals may be created in collaboration with the mother for childcare, health, and returning to work, if the mother chooses.

How Family Connects International Provides Care and Resources to Support Maternal Mental Health

The Family Connects Model integrates medical assistance with mental health resources. Family Connects International equips our community partners with training, resources, and support to connect families to local resources and provide newborns and their families with quality care. Registered nurses meet mothers and newborns at their homes, or at a location they are comfortable with, free of charge. Meeting mothers where they are most comfortable allows registered nurses and mothers to have conversations they might not normally have in public medical facilities.

The resources Family Connects nurses offer align with the mother’s mental health and physical needs discussed during the nurse home visit. Our registered nurses listen to mothers and work to provide them with needed tools and resources based on the needs identified. By the end of the nurse home visit, mothers are empowered and equipped to get the care they deserve. Studies have shown that the Family Connects early intervention program reduces the risk of mental health conditions. In a 2014 study, evidence indicated that the Family Connects model can reduce the likelihood of postpartum depression or anxiety by 30%.

Family Connects’ registered nurses are trained and equipped to address the whole person’s needs and the needs of their newborns and families. Our nurse home visits are completely confidential. There are countless accounts of new parents and their families who receive a nurse home visit from a Family Connects registered nurse highlighting the exceptional level of care delivered by our community partners and healthcare professionals. The testimonials received underscore the quality services our dedicated teams of nurses provide, ensuring the well-being of families and infants in communities nationwide. Our commitment to excellence shines through in the positive experiences and stories of those who have benefited from our nurse home visits.

Our mission revolves around ensuring that all families receive the necessary care and support during this crucial time. Family Connects Nurses embody our mission every day. To learn more about our nurse home-visiting model and how it improves the lives of mothers and newborns visit our website at FamilyConnects.org. Interested in becoming a community partner of FCI? Visit https://familyconnects.org/join-us/launch-a-family-connects-partnership/.

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