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Bill to help Memorial Hermann Northeast diagnose postpartum depression early

June 22, 2017

Memorial Hermann Northeast campus launched an Integrated Behavior Healthcare program in January of 2017 that comes in perfect timing after House Bill 2466 was passed in the most recent legislative session.

The law, which goes into effect Sept. 1, allows low-income mothers to receive an early screening for postpartum depression through their insurance provider as an office visit.

Manish Pandya, licensed clinical social worker with the psychology response team for Behavioral Health Services, said the bill is a positive step toward providing early medical attention to patients who suffer from postpartum depression or any kind of mental illness.

“Across the U.S., one in five (suffer from) mental illness,” Pandya said. “The great majority have problems in getting access. One of the biggest barriers is financial, and the other one is that people don’t know where to go.”

The Integrated Behavior Healthcare program works to serve patients suffering from a range of mental health issues.

Pandya said Memorial Hermann Northeast has four psych programs that operate out of the human health services division and three mental health crisis centers.

“When you launch a Behavior Health Integration project with individuals who aren’t familiar with what that means and you are the one pushing for why it’s important, we spend the better part of the first few months doing a lot of education,” Pandya said.

Pandya said House Bill 2466 is crucial to helping create easier access by allowing screenings to take place during a regular appointment with an obstetrician.

Mariam Massoud, education specialist in Behavioral Health Services, said she completes the assessment, determines whether a new mother’s current mood is related to postpartum and works to provide intervention methods.

“Postpartum symptoms are different. They last long and become more intense,” Massoud said. “The mother is unable to sleep even when the baby is sleeping; (she’s) not wanting to hold or touch the baby. It can increase to even wanting to hurt self or baby.”

Massoud said one out of eight new mothers suffers from postpartum depression.

“I think mental health is a topic not covered enough. It’s being pushed aside to some degree. If these many women are suffering, then there is a need that is not being met,” Massoud said.

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