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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Jewish Women’s Foundation Teams Up with AHN to Train Perinatal Therapists to Support Maternal and Infant Mental Health

Grant Funding Supports Access to a Continuum of Maternal/Infant Behavioral Health Services

PITTSBURGH --The Jewish Women’s Foundation (JWF) has awarded Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Women’s Behavioral Health program (WBH), part of the AHN Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Institute, grant funding to support a ‘best-in-class’ integrative model of care where mother and baby can receive safe, symbiotic treatment in a comprehensive way that includes perinatal and behavioral health care.

For those faced with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, research has shown that treatment should target the mother-infant relationship in addition to the mothers' depressive symptoms to improve the developing mother-child relationship.

According to one recent study, maternal postpartum depression (PPD) and mother-infant relationship dysfunction have reciprocal effects on each other and thus an integrated approach that addresses both problems simultaneously may lead to improved outcomes.

This program, titled, “AHN Women’s Behavioral Health Cross-Training for Perinatal Therapists to Support Both Mother and Child” addresses the needs of both women and children concurrently, a unique two-part modality not commonly offered in the traditional healthcare setting where mother and baby are often viewed as separate patients.

The program will include Parent-Child Interaction Therapy with Toddlers (PCITT), an early intervention program where providers coach parents during real-time interaction with therapeutic parenting practices proven to decrease problematic behaviors, improve children's language, and encourage children to follow directions.

Additionally, trained staff will work with parents and caregivers to help them understand and read their child’s emotional needs, support their child’s ability to manage emotions, enhance their child’s self-esteem and develop secure parent/child interaction.

“Through cross-training, staff experienced in caring for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders become more equipped to support both mother and child postpartum,” said Sarah Homitsky, MD, Medical Director, AHN Women’s Behavioral Health. “Allegheny Health Network is a pioneer in the specialized treatment of postpartum depression and comprehensive women’s care. By launching this program and providing multidisciplinary mental health treatment alongside PCITT, our health system will further advance our clinical excellence in this space and build upon our reputation as a national model for maternal and infant care.”

“The generous funding from Jewish Women’s Health Foundation will enable AHN to further advance their comprehensive care approach for mothers and children as traditional models in medicine evolve,” said Allie Quick, Chief Philanthropy Officer at AHN.  “The integration of women’s behavioral health and maternal infant health will continue to build upon existing programming to provide improvement in overall health outcomes and preventive mental health concerns for mother and child.”

“JWF seeks to fund work that positively impacts the lives of women and empowers them in the areas of health, education, economic security and safety,” said Judy Greenwald Cohen, Executive Director of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh. “We are pleased to be a critical component of supporting and strengthening secure parent-child relationships to improve overall maternal and infant health.”

For more information on the AHN Women’s Behavioral Health Institute, visit the website.

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