Addressing Maternal Mental Health in the Fight Against Pregnancy-Related Deaths

Maternal mental health has emerged as a pressing concern in the United States, with recent evidence revealing its status as the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths. Despite this alarming statistic, national initiatives designed to combat maternal mortality often fall short in prioritizing mental health. This oversight not only perpetuates the crisis but also undermines efforts to provide comprehensive care to expectant and new mothers. In light of these challenges, innovative programs such as El Camino Hospital’s MOMS program have stepped up to address the critical need for specialized care, particularly through their Specialty Inpatient Unit focusing on perinatal mental health conditions.

The maternal mortality rate in the US is disconcertingly high, significantly surpassing that of other high-income countries. According to a recent review published in JAMA Psychiatry, this rate continues to rise, underscoring the urgency of addressing underlying factors contributing to maternal mortality, including mental illness. The review, which synthesized data from 30 recent studies and 15 historical references, highlighted the significant but often underestimated role of mental health disorders in maternal deaths.

Maternal mental health is a complex and multifaceted issue that warrants immediate attention and action. Yet, despite its profound impact on maternal mortality, mental health is frequently sidelined in national initiatives aimed at improving maternal outcomes. This systemic oversight exacerbates disparities in access to mental health care and perpetuates the stigma surrounding mental illness, further marginalizing vulnerable populations.

Amidst these challenges, El Camino Hospital’s MOMS program stands out as a beacon of hope and innovation. The program’s Specialty Inpatient Unit with a Focus on Perinatal Mental Health Conditions represents a groundbreaking initiative, offering specialized care tailored to the unique needs of mothers experiencing mental health challenges during the perinatal period. As only the second of its kind in the US, this unit fills a crucial gap in the continuum of care for maternal mental health.

At the heart of El Camino Hospital’s MOMS program is a commitment to comprehensive, person-centered care. The program’s multidisciplinary team of experts, including psychiatrists, obstetricians, nurses, and social workers, collaborate to provide holistic assessment, personalized treatment planning, and ongoing support for mothers and their families. Through a combination of evidence-based interventions, including medication management, psychotherapy, and lactation support, the program addresses the diverse needs of mothers experiencing perinatal mental health conditions.

In addition to clinical care, El Camino Hospital’s MOMS program places a strong emphasis on education and community outreach. By raising awareness about perinatal mental health and reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness, the program seeks to empower mothers to seek help and access the support they need. Through partnerships with community organizations and advocacy efforts, the program strives to effect systemic change and create a culture of maternal wellness.

The significance of prioritizing maternal mental health cannot be overstated, particularly in the context of addressing pregnancy-related deaths in the US. By recognizing the critical role of mental health disorders in maternal mortality and investing in targeted interventions, we can make significant strides toward improving maternal outcomes and reducing disparities in care. Initiatives like El Camino Hospital’s MOMS program serve as models for comprehensive, integrated approaches to maternal mental health, demonstrating the potential for transformative change in maternal care delivery.

As we continue to confront the complex challenges surrounding maternal health, it is essential to shift the focus towards prioritizing maternal mental health. By advocating for policies that integrate mental health into broader maternal health initiatives and investing in innovative programs like El Camino Hospital’s MOMS program, we can ensure that every mother receives the care and support she needs to thrive. Together, through collective action and unwavering commitment, we can create a future where maternal mental health is no longer overlooked but recognized as a fundamental component of maternal well-being and health.


El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems.   Drs. Amy TengErika Balassiano, Pooja Gupta, and Vanessa Dorismond all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy), are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery.   Dr. Erika Balassiano has also completed a Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.

All of our physicians are El Camino Hospital doctors and operate and deliver at the Mountain View campus.

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