Patient Experience
While pregnancy and the early stages of motherhood are some of the most meaningful times in a woman’s life, they may also be among the most difficult. Feelings of loneliness, worry and inadequacy can become overwhelming, and the related mood and anxiety conditions many women may face can result in long-term consequences.
Often, general health practitioners lack behavioral health training specific to these periods in a woman’s life, and issues such as generalized anxiety disorder and depression can go undiagnosed. Fortunately, a new program at Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital is poised to bring about change. Thanks to a pivotal gift from the Woodforest Charitable Foundation, the campus’s Marling Family Childbirth Center initiated the Maternal Behavioral Health Services program, which is helping save women and their families from the heartache that often accompanies these challenges.
Through the inaugural program, providers integrate behavioral health training and tools into Houston Methodist’s holistic approach to health care, offering women immediate intervention, education, therapy, peer groups and access to mentors who guide them on the path to total health. The program will provide women, their partners and other caregivers with thoughtful, comprehensive care for physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Educating physicians on recognizing and addressing patients’ behavioral health symptoms before and after childbirth is a critical goal. Another is to train a new generation of clinicians to appreciate the need for women’s mental health awareness and arm them with expert care and treatment options. Ultimately, the program sets the stage for a broader understanding of women’s health care during a beautiful yet emotionally demanding time.
With more than 500 interactions to date, the Maternal Behavioral Health Services program is changing lives and reducing risks for women. Says Elizabeth Barnett, director of the Marling Family Child-birth Center, “Through heartfelt gifts like this, we anticipate expansion of this critical program to benefit every Houston Methodist campus in the coming years.”