Ensuring mom’s safety: Why maternal mental health matters

Dr. Teresa Wagner, HSC School of Health Professions Assistant ProfessorThe U.S. has the highest maternal death rate among the world’s developed nations — a rate that has continued to rise while remaining stable or falling in other developed countries.

SaferCare Texas’ Interim Director, Dr. Teresa Wagner, is helping educate the community on the importance of maternal mental health.

Wagner has developed a maternal mortality curriculum to help educate maternal health educators on mental health issues, such as postpartum depression and general health issues mothers may face. The What About Mom? app she developed helps mothers understand their postpartum symptoms and take action that could save their own lives.

“Helping new moms understand potential postpartum symptoms of which they might not be aware empowers them to make informed decisions that could mean the difference between life and death,” Wagner said. “The What About Mom? app is a health literacy patient safety tool that can help reduce preventable harm.”

According to the American Hospital Association, maternal mental health conditions, such as anxiety, perinatal and postpartum depression and birth-related PTSD, are the most common complications of pregnancy and childbirth, affecting one in five women. Among those affected, 75% go untreated.

While women of color are more likely to experience these mental health conditions, they also are less likely to seek help.

How providers can help with maternal mental health

Health care professionals play a critical role in eliminating preventable maternal mortality.

The CDC provides several ways healthcare professionals can help engage patients as partners in their own care which starts with listening and taking concerns seriously when it comes to maternal outcomes:

  1. Ask questions to better understand your patient and the things that may be affecting their lives.
  2. Address any concerns your patients may have.
  3. Help patients manage chronic conditions or conditions that may arise during pregnancy like hypertension, diabetes, or depression.
  4. Recognize unconscious bias in yourself and in your office.
  5. Provide all patients with respectful care.
  6. Help your patients, and those accompanying them, understand the urgent maternal warning signs and when to seek medical attention right away.

“Recent research reveals that our country continues to be plagued by health disparities based on structural inequities such as social determinants of health that can impact maternal outcomes,” Wagner said. “It’s up to us as health care providers to help bridge that gap.”

Learn more by clicking here: Maternal Mortality Curriculum and the What About Mom? App

Recent News

Screenshot 2024 06 20 At 3.45.01 pm
  • Our People
|Jun 20, 2024

From sacrifice to success: a journey through physical therapy school

Ancelmo Mojarro came to Fort Worth to study. The Tyler native knew he wanted to be a physical therapist early on his undergraduate days. He embarked on his path to physical therapy a decade ago, inspired by a friend's suggestion amidst his quest to find his calling in the medical field. “I starte...
  • Our People
|Jun 20, 2024

HSC pro bono physical therapy program offers hope

For 70-year-old Beverly Rozanski, the journey to improved health has been long and challenging. Raised in Michigan, Rozanski spent her childhood and early adult years struggling with physical challenges that made even the simplest tasks seem insurmountable. However, her discovery of a pro bono p...
Mills John
  • Our People
|Jun 20, 2024

Team of HSC experts develops national position statement for NCCHC on care for aging patients in correctional facilities

Addressing an overlooked and sometimes neglected patient population, a group of experts from The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth partnered with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to write a “Care for Aging Patients in the Correctional Setting” posit...
Jennifer Fix 2 Purple
  • Education
|Jun 18, 2024

Pharmacy technician shortage driving force behind new, online prep course

A self-paced, online Pharmacy Technician Preparation Course is now being offered through The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth as a way to help combat the shortage of pharmacy technicians at hospitals, health systems and retail pharmacies. Recognized by the Pharmacy Tech...