These plans and toolkits have been created through the work of many state and local partners with a shared interest in providing coordinated and comprehensive mental and behavioral health services to women before, during and after pregnancy
With more recent published guidance, public health nurses are increasingly screening for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) in home visitation and clinical settings. New evidence shows that maternal mental illness is a more common health concern than previously thought, and that many cases of what has been called postpartum depression, actually started during the pregnancy. Left untreated, this can be detrimental to the well-being of both the mother and child.
Mental health and substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life and all age groups. While common, recurrent, and often serious, these illnesses are also treatable, and many people do recover. Additionally, these conditions are often co-occurring. Nearly 50% of people who have one disorder have the other. Research suggests this may be the result of common risk factors contributing to both disorders; substance use may be a form of self-medicating for mental health disorders and brain chemistry can change due to substance use, making mental health disorders more likely. The mental health illnesses which most commonly co-occur with substance use are depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders.
Peer support is a process where those with a similar lived experience (like becoming pregnant or experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition) can work together to support each other. Support is provided through relationships around a shared experience. Peer support does not focus on providing answers; it provides support along the journey. You can search for peer support groups in Kansas by topic and location at supportgroupsinkansas.org or connect to the Provider Consultation Line for perinatal specific resources.
Additionally, a Perinatal Support Group Guidebook has been developed through collaborative work between Wichita State University Community Engagement Institute with contributions from the Kansas Chapter of Postpartum Support International. The guidebook has been developed to provide information and guidance for those looking to start a perinatal support group. Too often, there is a recognized need and a desire to provide support for this population, but a lack of guidance around how to make this desire a reality. The guidebook provides practical tips and ideas to consider for creating and maintaining a support group, specifically for the perinatal experience.