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Press Releases

Pregnant Women and New Moms Enriched by Maternal Depression Support Group at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull

Multilingual Support Groups Are Part of NYC's Effort to Screen and Treat All New Mothers for Maternal Depression

Feb 15, 2017

Brooklyn, NY

NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull announced today the establishment of weekly maternal depression support groups, for both English and Spanish speakers. The support groups provide a safe space for women who are often underserved, including new immigrants and the homeless. The program is one of the few in New York City to offer pre- and postpartum support groups in both English and Spanish.
The maternal depression support program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull is an extension of First Lady Chirlane McCray’s ThriveNYC initiative, which aims to change the conversation around mental health by increasing treatment options and public awareness. ThriveNYC has set a citywide goal to screen and treat all pregnant women and new mothers for maternal depression. All 11 NYC Health + Hospitals acute care centers offer maternal depression screening and resources for expectant and new mothers.

The support group program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull was developed by Rebecca Feldman, a certified nurse midwife, with help from a grant from The Fund for NYC Health + Hospitals. Feldman regularly observed signs of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders in her own patients. She was motivated to start the group sessions when she learned there were so few maternal therapy groups in Brooklyn.
“We wanted to have a place to refer patients who meet the risk factors for maternal depression, like having experienced depression during another period of life, and who are telling us they need extra support. Now we have this special resource where women can feel safe and share openly,” said Feldman.
After being awarded the grant, Feldman worked with psychotherapist Gianna LaFronza and social worker Julia Andino-Montes to create the program to meet the needs of the local community, where English and Spanish are commonly spoken.
“Before the groups started, I saw women come in with depression, and even postpartum psychosis. These women had many risk factors early in their pregnancies,” said LaFronza, who runs the English group. “Without early intervention, some got to the point where they needed to be hospitalized because of suicidal ideation or because they were at risk of hurting their babies.”
“The women of this community deserve a safe space where they can feel comfortable and heard,” said Julia Andino-Montes, who facilitates the Spanish group. “In addition to the challenges of new motherhood, many of the group’s members are concerned about other life issues, like immigration status. This group provides a culturally sensitive environment for women to discuss how all of these issues impact them as new mothers.”