Here’s the release of an invaluable resource for you and your clients: the Maternal Mental Health State Report Cards. These report cards, compiled by The Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health, provide crucial insights into each state’s performance in supporting the mental well-being of new parents (The Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health, 2023). You might wonder why these are relevant at the client level, so let’s explore the relevance and importance of these report cards for doulas and the families they serve. I intend to focus on the evaluation criteria and the actions doulas can take to help.
What are the Maternal Mental Health State Report Cards?
The inaugural Maternal Mental Health State Report Cards assess and rank states based on their policies, programs, and overall environment in supporting maternal mental health. The evaluation covers three areas:
- Providers and Programs
- Screening and Screening Reimbursement
- Insurance Coverage and Payment
States are awarded points based on their performance in each domain, with most indicators worth 3 points. In some cases, states receive 1-2 points for meeting specific indicators that may not be exclusively related to maternal mental health but still support it. Each state is then assigned a score A-F, including +/-.
Why are these report cards relevant to doulas and their clients?
As doulas, we support new parents during their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journey. We often witness firsthand the challenges they face, including the impact of mental health struggles on their overall well-being. The Maternal Mental Health State Report Cards offer valuable insights into the systemic factors that contribute to or alleviate these challenges. This is usually shown at the policy level, while you may spend more time on the individual level.
By staying informed about the policies and resources available in your state, you can better support your clients and advocate for their needs. These report cards can also be used to educate clients on the importance of maternal mental health and guide them toward appropriate resources if they face challenges during the postpartum period. It will also show you where you may need to focus policy and advocacy efforts outside of your individual work as a doula.
What can doulas do with the Maternal Mental Health State Report Cards?
- Stay informed: Keep yourself updated on your state’s performance in supporting maternal mental health based on the evaluation criteria. This will help you stay aware of any changes in policies or available resources that may affect your clients. This inaugural year, the highest grade is a B-.
- Educate and empower clients: Share the information from the report cards with your clients, discussing the criteria used for evaluation. This can help them understand the importance of maternal mental health and feel more empowered to seek help if needed.
- Advocate for better policies and resources: Use the report cards as a tool to advocate for improved policies and resources in your state. Share the findings with your professional network and consider collaborating with organizations working to improve maternal mental health support.
- Celebrate successes: If your state ranks well in the report cards, celebrate and promote the policies and programs that are working well. This can help foster a positive environment for new parents and encourage other states to adopt similar measures.
Some more ideas to share the information and get it out there:
- Write a letter to the editor
- Share images and information on social media
- Discuss findings with clients
- Attend local advocacy events
- Create educational materials
- Organize workshops or webinars
- Partner with mental health professionals
- Host a community discussion or forum
- Share resources in client newsletters
- Collaborate with local support groups
The Maternal Mental Health State Report Cards represent a significant step toward greater awareness and support for new parents’ mental well-being. As doulas, we have a unique opportunity to utilize this information to enhance our practice and provide even better support to the families we serve. Let’s continue to work together to improve maternal mental health outcomes and ensure that every new parent has the support they deserve.
Source: The Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health. (2023, May). Inaugural Maternal Mental Health State Report Card (2023). https://www.2020mom.org/state-report-cards