• Megan Logan

October is Maternal Mental Health Screening Awareness Month

Of note: the following is taken from 20/20 mom's website. Please go to https://www.2020mom.org/screening-overview?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=cb10c849-fd7d-4ac9-aa73-c7ae8208478b for more information.

What is Screening and Who Does It?

Screening for postpartum depression and other maternal mental health disorders, is the first step in educating women about the risk, signs and symptoms and detecting potential disorders. Because there isn’t yet a medical diagnostic test, like a blood or saliva test to detect potential mental health disorders, questionnaires (referred to as screening tools) are used.

Screening for maternal mental health disorders can be administered in various settings and by various health care professionals, trained support staff, or be completed by the individual. Screening tools are available in various forms and languages, including paper, web-based (medical and non-medical sites), questions read by a health care professional through an electronic medical record interface, and smartphone apps.

After the screening tool is administered, a score is derived to identify whether the patient screened positive or negative for a mental health disorder. A positive screening score does not necessarily confirm a diagnosis; a more thorough diagnostic evaluation by a healthcare professional with adequate training in maternal mental health may be necessary. Such providers could include being Perinatal Mental Health-Certified, or completing training through the National Curriculum in Reproductive Psychiatry for example.

Screening is an assessment, it is an opportunity for conversation and can open the door for those struggling to recognize they are in a safe place to have mental health conversations. Read below to learn more about the screening tools researchers consider valid in detecting these disorders.


When Should Screening Occur?

At a minimum, based on recommendations from various professional provider associations and in conjunction with the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS), 2020 Mom recommends screening happen during the following intervals:

During Pregnancy: At least once, ideally late in the first trimester or early in the second trimester. Those who are pregnant should be informed about and screened for maternal mental health disorders by their obstetricians or support staff when pregnancy is confirmed. This is because new onset of these disorders occurs almost as frequently during pregnancy as in the postpartum period, and many who are childbearing age have pre-existing and undiagnosed/untreated anxiety and depression. Screening should occur at least once more during pregnancy, ideally late in the first trimester or early in the second trimester.

In the Postpartum Period: At least once, at the six week obstetric postpartum visit and ideally at least one additional time through the first year after birth.


Talk to your doctor or mental health practitioner today if you feel you may be struggling with postpartum depression or other perinatal mood disorders.



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