One in five women in California will experience distressing emotions, anxiety or depression during their pregnancy or up to a year after giving birth. This time can be difficult for the entire family. Early identification and treatment are vital to the health of not only the mother, but also her infant, partner and family. The pandemic has only increased new parents’ need for support.
Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group is now offering free telehealth counseling for pregnant women and new parents in the Sacramento area and surrounding communities. The program began September 1 and provides mental health resources to pregnant and postpartum women and their partners. Program participants will receive up to eight free telehealth sessions with a therapist. All parents with a new baby, pregnant women and their partners are welcome in this free program, even if they are not Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group patients. Services are available in Spanish as well as English.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased feelings of isolation and stress for many of us. For pregnant women and new parents, it has also cut off important access to in-person support of family and friends. Fears about one’s health, safety and security can add even more stress, especially for women with a history of trauma.
The New Parent Telehealth Counseling program can help parents work through negative thoughts and emotions, discuss concerns while figuring out new parenting roles, and learn new ways to cope with difficult situations. Some feelings and experiences the program can help with include:
- Feelings of sadness
- Mood swings: highs and lows, feeling overwhelmed
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of interest in things one used to enjoy
- Panic attacks, nervousness, anxiety
- Excessive worry about your baby
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Fearing that you can’t take care of your baby
- Feelings of guilt and inadequacy
- Difficulty accepting motherhood
- Irrational thinking; seeing or hearing things that are not there
“Many women struggle emotionally during pregnancy and during the first year after giving birth,” said Barbara Sheehy, MS, system director at Perinatal Behavioral Health Women’s and Infant’s Clinical Institute with CommonSpirit Health. “Maternal depression is the number one complication of pregnancy and can affect women regardless of age, income, culture or education. We want women and their partners to know that they are not alone. They are not to blame, and we are here to help.”
Services offered in the New Parent Telehealth Counseling program are completely confidential and are conducted virtually, from the comfort of your home. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to know that you did nothing to cause this, and it is not your fault. Psychiatrists and therapists at Dignity Health Medical Groups are here to help. This program is funded by the Mercy Foundation and Dignity Health Foundation Philanthropy. Call 209-938-0831 to get started with free counseling sessions.