Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders affect one in seven pregnant and postpartum women nationwide, making them the most common complication of pregnancy. Unfortunately, only one in 20 women who need treatment for these conditions actually receives it. This translates to a multigenerational issue, which can negatively affect the mother and child’s long-term physical, emotional and developmental health. It also means an estimated $14.2 billion annually in societal costs in the U.S. alone. While not every perinatal individual with mental health concerns has access to a mental health provider, cell phones and text messaging are ubiquitous. Nonjudgmental support delivered through text messaging may be a low cost approach to reaching women who need emotional support in the perinatal period.
Our project aims to evaluate a text-based mentoring program, the Nurture Program, and assess whether it is possible to support mothers through their third trimester of pregnancy and nine months postpartum and enhance their emotional well-being. The Nurture Program combines the convenience of secure text messaging with the personalization of having a trained peer mentor with whom the mother can develop a trusting relationship. This program also provides resources on child development, connections to local support agencies and suggestions for parent-child bonding and parental wellness activities. Surveyed participants of the Nurture Program consistently report their mentor helped them feel less stressed and more confident in their role as a parent. This study will allow us to measure the impact of this cost-effective approach to promoting perinatal emotional well-being.
September 1, 2021 — August 31, 2022
Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions
Perinatal (pregnant and new moms)