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Grant will help expand perinatal mental health and substance use disorder center created at UMMS

By Sarah Willey

UMass Medical School Communications

April 11, 2019

Nancy Byatt, DO, and Tiffany Moore Simas, MD, co-created Lifeline4Moms. The new grant from the Perigree Fund will help expand the center. 

A center created by UMass Medical School to address mental health and substance use disorders among pregnant and postpartum women has received a two-year grant from Perigee Fund to create a scalable, comprehensive network to facilitate learning and research across the United States, with the ultimate goal of helping mothers across the country.

Nancy Byatt, DO, MS, MBA, and Tiffany Moore Simas, MD, MPH, MEd, created the Lifeline4Moms Center to build on the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program for Moms (MCPAP for Moms), which has helped more than 5,700 women statewide since its launch in 2014. The programs were developed to help obstetricians and other obstetric and primary care providers screen, diagnose, treat and refer women suffering from mental health and substance use disorders during and after pregnancy.

“Mental health and substance use disorders during pregnancy and after birth occur in one in five women,” said Dr. Moore Simas, professor of obstetrics & gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry and population & quantitative and health sciences and vice-chair of obstetrics & gynecology. “Untreated illness during pregnancy and after the baby is born can lead to poor birth outcomes and devastating long-term consequences for the mother, the child and the family.”

“Mental health services for pregnant and postpartum mothers can be incredibly challenging for families to access,” said Kim Gilsdorf, program officer at Perigee Fund. “We believe that this work will make it easier for states and health care systems across the country to develop or expand perinatal psychiatry access programs, and that improved access will lead to better health outcomes for mothers, babies and families.”

With funding support from the Perigee Fund, Moore Simas, Dr. Byatt and their team will develop a multistate peer network of Perinatal Psychiatric Access Programs. In addition to Massachusetts, ten states and/or health care system have or are already developing their own programs, and many others are seeking funding.

“We envision that we will provide a cross-state platform for evaluating maternal mental health care, leading to vastly improved outcomes for mothers, their children and their families.” Byatt said. “As part of the learning and research collaborative, we will examine data to determine what improvements need to be made in order to achieve better outcomes for moms and their families.”

Learn more at the Lifeline4Moms and MCPAP for Moms websites.

Related stories on UMassMedNow:
Lifeline4Moms helps obstetricians support women with perinatal depression
UMMS perinatal expert explains why all mothers should be screened for depression during, after pregnancy
Perinatal depression expert urges calm on study linking antidepressant use to autism
Byatt tells Reuters Health new study will help pregnant women decide about antidepressants
Expert’s Corner: Consider all options for treating depression during pregnancy
WCVB-TV: New mothers getting help for postpartum depression through new state program led by UMMS