VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Good Samaritan physicians and staff have been following perinatal depression trends throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of $9,970 from the United Way Lilly Endowment grant, the hospital will be able to establish a postpartum group therapy led by psychiatry residents for women with clinically significant levels of depression, anxiety or PTSD.

The group therapy sessions will be a hybrid of in-person and virtual sessions.

“Prior to COVID-19, confirmation of pregnancy was an exciting time for the majority of women and their families,” said Rachel Spalding, Chief Nursing Officer at Good Samaritan. “Baby showers and gender reveals filled the months prior to birth. Family members visited the hospital in droves to welcome the newborn, followed by friends and family offering support the first several weeks at home so mom and baby can get acclimated to their new normal.

“However, on March 13, 2020, restrictions due to the pandemic changed the way families were able to celebrate their pregnancy,” Spalding continued. “For the almost 300 babies born at Good Samaritan since, the experience of the mother has been very different. Visitor restrictions left delivering moms with only one support person at delivery, after several prenatal appointments in which only the patient was allowed.”

The Perinatal Experiences and COVID-19 Effects (PEACE) study released Dec. 1, 2020 found 36.4% of new mothers reported clinically significant levels of depression. Before the pandemic, rates of perinatal depression were generally considered to be 15-20%. Furthermore, 22.7% reported clinically significant levels of generalized anxiety, and 10.3% reported symptoms above the clinical threshold for PTSD.

The funding received from the United Way will help new moms who are suffering with postpartum depression and anxiety from being a new parent during a pandemic. Mothers may opt-in to a curriculum-based group therapy program. Patients who may need additional support beyond the groups will be identified and referred to additional mental health treatment.

“We are thankful for the support of the United Way so we can provide valuable resources to assist our mothers who may face additional challenges at the beginning stages of motherhood,” said Margaret Suozzi, Good Samaritan Director of Women’s and Children’s Health. “Having a support group as a new mother can make a huge difference, especially during a pandemic when social interaction is limited.”

United Way funding will also be used to continue to provide resources for mothers and babies such as parenting classes, Cribs for Kids and virtual infant education for parents and caregivers. It is anticipated that the programs will service up to 250 newborns and their families.