Search Close Search
Search Close Search
Page Menu

Finding Support for Mothers’ and Children’s Mental Health Needs in COVID-19 Pandemic

Press Release from Massachusetts Department of Mental Health

Date Posted: Friday, April 10, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing emphasis has been placed on the role of telehealth to improve access to critically needed health care services. The primary emphasis has been on provider - patient interactions. Yet, less known but still very important, is the role that telehealth can play in increasing the capacity of providers to more effectively respond to and care for their patients. This type of capacity-building through telehealth links health care providers with specialized clinical consultation teams who offer support, consultation, and collaborative learning to address specific clinical needs.

Two programs in Massachusetts provide real-time, psychiatric support through telehealth strategies - MCPAP and MCPAP for Moms.

  • MCPAP (Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program) provides specialized psychiatric consultation to pediatricians and other primary care providers who serve children.
  • MCPAP for Moms provides specialized perinatal psychiatric consultation to OB-GYN physicians and other providers who care for women during the perinatal period.

Both programs are available to any provider in Massachusetts serving these populations and regardless of the insurance status of the patient. Both programs are also able to provide, in addition to specialized psychiatric consultation, assessments via telehealth with patients who have complex clinical needs, and information about community resources that may be helpful to the provider and the patient.

“During this time of increased physical isolation and dramatic disruption of normal life activities and routines, mental health needs are increasing for everyone. In addition, children and women with pre-existing mental health needs continue to need support and services and in some circumstances, may need more than they previously needed.” states Dr. Barry Sarvet, MCPAP Medical Director and Chair of Psychiatry at Baystate Health and Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at UMass Chan Medical School at Baystate. He adds, “Pediatricians, OB-GYN physicians, and other primary care and health care providers are a trusted link to services and supports for families and perinatal women. As the need for mental health support increases, health care providers can benefit from psychiatric consultation that helps them meet mental health needs among their patients. This is where MCPAP and MCPAP for Moms can provide an important support to health care providers.”

The MCPAP and MCPAP for Moms programs are available to all health care providers in Massachusetts who serve children (MCPAP) and perinatal women (MCPAP for Moms). With one phone call, providers can reach a team of psychiatrists, behavioral health clinicians, and resource and referral specialists who can answer questions about psychiatric medication and treatment and provide clinical guidance and information about community mental health resources. MCPAP and MCPAP for Moms also have materials that can assist providers during the COVID-19 crisis.