Quality Quarterly

HQI Announces Perinatal Mental Health Initiative

In February 2020, HQI will launch a perinatal mental health (PMH) initiative aimed at continuing the strides California hospitals have made in improving maternity care. The initiative will help hospital perinatal staff understand, recognize, and effectively respond to mental health issues in the perinatal period. It will also help hospitals comply with a new law — Assembly Bill 3032 (Chapter 773, Statutes of 2018) — that, effective Jan. 1, will require hospitals to educate perinatal employees about maternal mental health conditions and inform postpartum women and families about the signs and symptoms of maternal mental health disorders, local post-hospital treatment options, and community resources. The initiative is funded through a grant from the California Health Care Foundation. 

California hospitals made great strides in improving maternity care in recent years, bucking the national trends of rising maternal mortality and morbidity. The timing is right to address maternal mental health disorders as part of comprehensive, high-quality maternity care in our birthing hospitals. 

Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are the most common complication of childbirth, affecting approximately one in five birthing women, with prevalence rates even higher in low-income communities and communities of color.  Unfortunately, very few women are diagnosed and of those diagnosed, only about half receive treatment. 

HQI’s PMH initiative will offer the following, free of charge, to all California birthing hospitals:

  • In February 2020, HQI will kick off PMH Learning Community, a set of programs to provide education, guidance, and tools needed to integrate maternal mental health in perinatal hospital units, as well as peer-to-peer learning and support. The PMH Learning Community will consist of a webinar series, group office hours, one on one coaching and in-person events.  The PMH Learning Community will operate from February 2020 through December 2021. 
  • By April 1, 2020, HQI will release:​
    • An online course on maternal mental health for perinatal staff and providers
    • A quick reference guide with tools and resources for perinatal staff and providers
    • A patient engagement app to help women and their families maintain optimal mental health in the postpartum period
    • A customizable brochure template hospitals may use to inform women and families about maternal mental health conditions, treatment options, and community resources.