AUSTIN – The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is recognizing Maternal Mental Health Week, which runs May 1-7, by highlighting a variety of services available to assist Texas women in identifying and treating maternal mental health conditions.
Almost 1 in 5 women will experience a mental health condition during pregnancy or in the year after birth, according to the World Health Organization. Those conditions can include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar illness, substance use disorders and others.
“Maternal mental health challenges frequently go unnoticed. However, Texas moms don’t have to live in despair or with the stigma of maternal mental illness. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission offers resources and services to ensure no mother feels alone,” said Sonja Gaines, deputy executive commissioner of Behavioral Health Services at HHSC.
HHSC provides the following services to assist Texas women experiencing maternal mental health challenges:
- Postpartum Depression Screening: Covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program for the mother of an enrolled infant, postpartum depression screening is used to help diagnose depression after giving birth.
- Mental Health and Substance Use Resources: Local mental health authorities (LMHAs) and local behavioral health authorities (LBHAs) provide counseling, medication and peer support to address barriers to successful recovery. To find a local LMHA or LBHA, visit HHSC’s Mental Health and Substance Use website.
- Substance Use Disorder Programs for Pregnant and Parenting Women: There are a variety of intervention and treatment options designed to promote stability and help people start their recovery journey. The array of substance use services encourages people to seek recovery through prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery support. Intervention and treatment programs include Maternal Opioid Misuse model, Pregnant and Parenting Intervention, and Parenting Awareness and Drug Risk Education Services.
- Healthy Texas Women: Eligible women can receive services focused on major health conditions that contribute to maternal morbidity and mortality, including screenings and treatments for cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, postpartum depression and other mental health conditions for up to 12 months after childbirth through Healthy Texas Women Plus.
- Texas WIC: Texas WIC (Women, Infants and Children) offers education on mental and emotional health during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Texas WIC also provides referrals for additional services for women experiencing postpartum depression. For more information, visit the Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression, BreastmilkCounts.com - Mental & Emotional Health page, and Health Care Provider’s Guide to Breastfeeding – Postpartum Depression (PPD) page.
- Family Violence Program: Through a network of service providers, the Family Violence Program promotes safety, self-sufficiency, and long-term independence of adult and child survivors of family violence and survivors of dating violence.
- Alternatives to Abortion (A2A): The A2A program provides services and supports to prenatal and postnatal women, children, and families by promoting healthy birth outcomes, offering parent education on raising healthy children, child development, and addressing educational and employment readiness barriers. A2A providers offer private, confidential counseling and mentoring to women on pregnancy and parenting.
- Family Resources: For pregnancy support, parenting and caregiver information, health care and financial assistance, employment training opportunities and help for housing, visit the Family Resources website.
Maternal mental health conditions are common and treatable; however, failure to recognize and treat these conditions can have adverse consequences. Depression can affect women before, during and after their pregnancy. According to 2019 data from the Texas Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 12.6% of Texas women reported experiencing depression during pregnancy, with 14.9% experiencing postpartum depression symptoms.
“Maternal mental health challenges can be significant,” said Rob Ries, deputy executive commissioner for Family Health Services at HHSC. “The programs and services HHSC offer are designed to help Texas mothers navigate those challenges.”
For help with an immediate mental health crisis, visit HHSC’s Mental Health Crisis Services website. Services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and include prompt face-to-face crisis assessment, crisis intervention services, crisis follow-up, and relapse prevention services. Suicide Prevention starts with recognizing and taking the warning signs seriously. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. For immediate help, call 988. Women may also contact the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline at 1-833-943-5746.