Championing Maternal Well-Being: CPCQC Contributes to National Strategy On Maternal Mental Health

May, 23, 2024

In a significant move addressing the pressing issue of maternal mental health, the Biden-Harris Administration unveiled the National Strategy to Improve Maternal Mental Health Care on May 14, 2024. The National Strategy recognizes that suicide and unintentional overdose are the leading causes of maternal mortality in the United States; and that over 1 in 5 birthing people and mothers experience perinatal mental health complications. 

The National Task Force on Maternal Mental Health, comprised of over 100 perinatal mental health experts, advocates, and people with lived experience; convened for over six months to produce the new strategy. Together, task force members identified five primary pillars for enhancing maternal mental health care across the U.S: 

1: Build a national infrastructure that prioritizes perinatal mental health and well-bring

2: Make care and services accessible, affordable, and equitable

3: Use data and research to improve outcomes and accountability

4: Promote prevention and engage, educate, and partner with communities

5: Lift up lived experience

As Colorado’s Perinatal Quality Collaborative, CPCQC participated in the National Task Force on Maternal Mental Health to advocate for the unique needs of Colorado mothers, birthing people, infants, and families. CPCQC Chief Executive Officer, Rebecca Alderfer, reflects

“State Perinatal Quality Care Collaboratives (PQCs) are an essential partner of The National Strategy to Improve Maternal Mental Health, and it was a privilege to be able to share that perspective as a member of the task force.  I look forward to working with our federal and state partners, as well as corporate and philanthropic sectors, to support implementation.  As a leader in maternal mental health over the past decade, I see both the progress and the significant possibility we have to lessen and prevent mental health concerns and to routinely provide effective care for the most common complications in pregnancy and postpartum and one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in Colorado and nationally.”  

The new national strategy’s release is timely, coinciding with the Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health’s 2024 state report card release. The Policy Center analysis assesses states across three domains: providers and programs; screening and screening reimbursement; and insurance coverage and treatment. The Policy Center concluded that the U.S. is failing mothers, as over 29 states received a “D” or an “F” for their lack of durable investment in maternal mental health.

The Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health ranked Colorado as “C.” The Center highlighted Colorado’s positive policy efforts to expand insurance coverage and treatment access, alongside the need to continue improving screening rates and increasing access to perinatal mental health services. 

Combined, the National Strategy to Improve Maternal Mental Health and the Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health’s report cards charge CPCQC to continue investing in perinatal mental health solutions across Colorado. The documents’ collective emphasis on improving access to mental health services, enhancing provider training, increasing awareness, and reducing stigma surrounding maternal mental health issues mirrors CPCQC’s ongoing efforts to advocate for comprehensive support systems. 

Earlier this month, CPCQC released an RFP to expand the IMproving Perinatal Access, Coordination, and Treatment: Behavioral Health (IMPACT BH) Program to Mesa and Montrose Counties.  One of CPCQC’s many programs, IMPACT BH helps communities strengthen and integrate their local perinatal mental health services. Together, counties participating in IMPACT BH work to ensure that no birthing person, mother, infant, or family falls through the cracks due to perinatal mental health challenges. 

IMPACT BH squarely aligns with the new national maternal health strategy, as the program works to:

1: Enhance local infrastructure to prioritize perinatal mental health and well-bring through perinatal mental health capacity-building funding, responsive trainings, and clinical perinatal quality improvement initiatives 

2: Make care and services accessible, affordable, and equitable by enhancing local culturally attuned, bilingual, and no-cost perinatal navigation services 

3: Use data and research to improve outcomes and accountability by elevating local perinatal mental health strengths, needs, and opportunities to state-level funders and policymakers 

4: Promote prevention and engage, educate, and partner with communities through perinatal continuum of care working groups improving communication, coordination, knowledge, and trust across services supporting perinatal people 

5: Lift up lived experience by partnering with, expanding access to, and learning from local peers with perinatal mental health and/or substance use lived experience 

In addition, IMPACT BH’s efforts address Colorado’s perinatal mental health shortcomings identified in the Policy Center for Maternal Health’s report card. Specifically, IMPACT BH partners with communities to 

  • Expand universal perinatal mental health and substance use screening, brief intervention, and treatment (SBIRT)
  • Enhance access to local perinatal mental health services 

We look forward to partnering with Mesa and Montrose to begin implementing the IMPACT BH program beginning this July. 

CPCQC is proud to stand in full support of the new National Strategy to Improve Maternal Mental Health Care–and are energized to continue partnering with others across Colorado to collectively improve our state’s maternal mental health landscape. 

By emphasizing the importance of maternal mental health within the broader spectrum of perinatal care, the Biden-Harris Administration’s initiative and the Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health report cards align with CPCQC’s dedication to fostering holistic well-being for all individuals involved in the childbirth process. 

Join us in advocating for improved maternal health care–including maternal mental health–across Colorado. Together, we can prioritize mental health within the maternal care continuum, moving closer to ensuring that every individual receives the care they deserve.