St. Peter’s Health Expands Maternal Mental Health Programming

April 19, 2021

St. Peter’s is one of two organizations nationwide to receive funding to help local families

St. Peter’s Health was awarded $50,000 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) as part of the organization’s Cross-Sectional Innovation to Improve Rural Postpartum Mental Health Challenge. St. Peter’s was one of two organizations nationwide selected to receive the funding, which will be used to support and grow the local health care organization’s Taking Care of You program.

Taking Care of You aims to connect families with support during pregnancy through the first year of a baby’s life. The program offers whole family support for depression, anxiety, substance use, stress, grief and loss, and challenges with social needs like housing. The program was born out of existing work done through the Meadowlark Initiative, a statewide effort funded through the Montana Healthcare Foundation that helps St. Peter’s reach new mothers with substance use disorders and mental health concerns.

“The introduction of a new baby to a family is a transitional and transformational time,” said St. Peter’s Care Manager and maternal mental health expert Kelsey Kyle, RN. According to Kyle, 15 to 20 percent of new moms experience a perinatal mood disorder, like postpartum depression or anxiety. “Often, we’re so focused on the baby. We neglect to care for the caregivers. This program aims to ensure that caregivers are taken care of, too.” 

Registered Nurse Care Managers lead the program and connect caregivers with the support, tools, and encouragement they need through one-on-one meetings and check-ins. Most people who take part in the program are referred through their medical provider.

Helena community member Nicole Hamilton has already benefited from the program and her relationship with Kyle. Hamilton was referred to Kyle by her St. Peter’s primary care provider Dr. Chelsey Field. She learned more about relationship and family dynamic issues that challenged her to find healthy ways to cope without substance use. Hamilton successfully navigated a road to recovery that lead to her girls returning to her care and her ability to provide them with a safe and healthy home. Together, Kyle and behavioral health professional Bernadette Miller, LCPC helped Hamilton find and connect to the support she needed to improve the health and wellbeing for both her and her girls.  

“Bernadette and Kelsey helped me navigate custody hearings, helped with enrollment for benefits through various agencies, helped me find regular counseling and eventually a new job. During the height of pandemic isolation, they were simply “someone to talk to, someone to give a compliment,” Hamilton said. “They supported the path I chose, the choices I made and supplied me with the means needed to achieve my goals. Their genuine support made a huge difference.”

Learn more about the Taking Care of You program here