Technology Eases Postpartum Depression for Rural Moms
Jan 8, 2018 12:00 AM
Once the baby showers and casseroles end, having a newborn can be a lonely experience.
And caring for that infant in Utah’s far-flung rural communities can aggravate new mothers’ feelings of isolation and depression. College of Nursing Associate Professor Gwen Latendresse has developed a telehealth model for early screening and group therapy in rural areas of the state. Last fall, the Utah Department of Health awarded Latendresse $298,000 for the second phase of her project, “Telementalhealth: A Promising Approach to Reducing Perinatal Depression in Utah's Rural and Frontier Communities.”
Using an intervention called “Uplift” launched at Emory University, Latendresse asks University of Utah Health’s expectant mothers to fill out emailed MEval questionnaires before their prenatal appointments at university clinics. Those identified by Obstetrics and Gynecology staff as being at risk of depression are then referred to group therapy.
The women “meet” remotely for eight weeks in a video conference with a facilitator—usually a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner. Over the course of their sessions, the women are trained to identify their own triggers and figure out which mindfulness exercises work best for them.
“The technology is key,” Latendresse says. “The women say, ‘If I had to get out and get in my car and go someplace, I would not have done this.’ They don’t have to leave their homes. That can be a huge barrier.”
The telehealth therapy project will be funded for two years.