New Statewide Initiative Addresses Maternal Depression

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — To help perinatal care providers meet the behavioral healthcare needs of pregnant and postpartum women in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Center for Women’s Behavioral Health (CWBH) at Women & Infants Hospital have partnered to create the Rhode Island Maternal Psychiatry Resource Network (RI MomsPRN).

This new statewide program provides real-time psychiatric teleconsultation services for healthcare providers, who can call 401-430-2800, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The telephone service is staffed by a team of perinatal behavioral health experts from CWBH, including a resource and referral specialist, perinatal psychiatrist, and perinatal psychologist. They are available to help with diagnosis, treatment planning, and medication management for pregnant and post-partum patients.

“We want to make sure that all babies, moms, and families in every ZIP code in Rhode Island have an equal opportunity to be healthy,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. “The most common medical complication of childbirth is depression. It is crucial that we equip healthcare providers in Rhode Island with the tools and resources they need to support women during this critical phase. Connection is everything.”

An estimated 20% of Rhode Island women experience depression before, during, or after pregnancy. Depression symptoms in the perinatal period can range from a sad mood and loss of interest in activities to feelings of worthlessness, problems in concentrating or making decisions, and changes in eating or sleep. There is also growing evidence that perinatal substance use is increasing. Routine screening for maternal depression and related behavioral health needs throughout the perinatal period is a recommended best practice and results in better outcomes for mother and child.

“Perinatal mood and substance use disorders are highly treatable,” said Director of CWBH Margaret Howard, PhD. “Rhode Island is fortunate to have a robust community of perinatal mental health experts, unique programming at CWBH, and services at the Day Hospital at Women & Infants. However, there is still a need for more specialized providers. RI MomsPRN is designed to build provider capacity in treating mild to moderate cases of perinatal mood complications and to prioritize specialty resources for high-risk women with more complex conditions.”

The RI MomsPRN team can also help identify community-based resources, such as mental health care, recovery services, support groups, and other case-dependent resources for pregnant and postpartum patients. This program is funded by a five-year grant from the US Health Resources and Services Administration and draws on the successful outcomes of Rhode Island’s PediPRN Program at the Emma Pendleton Bradley Hospital that helps pediatricians manage children’s psychiatric needs.

To learn more about RI MomsPRN phone consultation service for healthcare providers, visit

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $650,000 with 1% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents included in this news release were prepared by RIDOH and the CWBH and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.

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