We’ve had a few surreal moments in maternal mental health this fall, this one is definitely a moment that the maternal mental health community should be jumping up and down about.

In September, 2018 the federal government’s Health and Human Services Agency (HRSA) announced it has awarded 4.5 million in grants to seven lucky states to address maternal mental health over five years (2018-2023).

The seven states included:
North Carolina
Rhode Island

Each of the seven states has initially received roughly $650,000 for their work from 2018-2019. The funded programs will provide services, such as real-time psychiatric consultation, care coordination, and training to help front-line providers screen, assess, refer, and treat pregnant and postpartum women. Programs may also address rural and medically underserved areas and culturally competent care.

I had a chance to connect with Dawn Levinson at HRSA about the program. She shared that each state’s application was reviewed and scored independently by an external panel of reviewers selected by HRSA’s Division of Independent Review using the criteria noted in the funding opportunity notice.

Like me, you might also be interested in learning more about the projects that were selected for funding. Let’s take a look at KS and FL:

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment was awarded $3 million dollars over a five year period for their “Safeguarding Two Lives: Expanding Early Identification & Access to Perinatal Mental Health and Substance Abuse Screening Initiative.”
The program’s goals are to:

  1. Develop and disseminate training and toolkits
  2. Utilize telehealth and/or community resources
  3. Develop service coordination across providers
  4. Provide behavioral health and substance use services
  5. Align state and local partnerships

Key program partners include local health departments and community mental health centers with support from the Association of Community Mental Health Centers, The Central Kansas Foundation, Heartland Telehealth, Project ECHO, University of Missouri – Kansas City, Wichita State University, and University of Kansas.

Initial Pilot
The program will initially roll out in 10 southeast Kansas counties, with a goal of launching in a phased approach across the state.

The Florida Department of Public Health was a recipient of a grant and will be partnering with the Florida Maternal Mental Health Collaborative (a 2020 Mom community action plan partner) and Florida State University to:

  1. Train community mental health providers in evidence-based MMH psychotherapy methods
  2. Build a screening and treatment model for all major perinatal health practices in the state
  3. Build statewide capacity to screen, treat, and refer with a specific focus on training Ob/Gyns and hospitals in North FL
  4. Address telehealth access for both rural and non-rural communities
  5. Initiate and maintain provider participation in the program

We are very interested in lifting up what’s working in these states so other states can be inspired.  HRSA has accepted our offer to feature several of these state programs through a webinar series, beginning in late 2019 or early 2020. Be sure you are signed up for 2020 Mom e-news to learn more.  

The Act was signed into law as part of the 21st Cures Act. After the legislation was passed, the maternal mental health community advocated for funding to be secured, through under the comprehensive budget allocation bill (referred to as the “Omnibus” bill) (HR 1625). Collectively, the legislation directed the Federal Health and Human Services Agency (HRSA) to create a grant program for states addressing maternal mental health.  

Future Grants

At this time it’s unclear whether another grant opportunity will be extended to additional states. These opportunities will be dependent on continued annual congressional authorization of funds.

If you’ve made it this far reading, we know you are interested in legislative and regulatory change to advance change.  2020 Mom continues to host an annual hill day in D.C. which we have rebranded as “Mom Congress.” This year, even more partners and causes in the Maternal Child Health (MCH) space will come together to promote (and pamper) mothers and our collective agenda. Learn more and let us know if you are interested in attending here.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable. HRSA also administers the services and state funding in support of mothers and children through the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant.  

To learn more about how HRSA is addressing behavioral and mental health, visit www.hrsa.gov/behavioral-health.