Counseling, Psychiatric Care, and Support for Women
At the Huntsman Mental Health Institute (formerly UNI), women can find perinatal mental health services (also known as maternal mental health) for a variety of needs they may experience throughout their lives. Our team provides support and expertise to women who are experiencing:
Types of Perinatal Mental Health Services
No matter what symptoms you may be experiencing, we can help. We offer the following treatment options to get you the support and care you need:
- outpatient clinics,
- inpatient treatment, and
- perinatal support and education groups.
Our Maternal Mental Health Clinic is located at our Downtown Behavioral Health Clinic and Farmington Behavioral Health Clinic. Our team of qualified psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and licensed clinical social workers will provide you with individual therapy and medication management.
We offer specialty care for women suffering from perinatal mental health disorders, which occur immediately before or after a baby’s birth. Our perinatal psychiatric team provides specialized care to women who are pregnant or who have given birth within the past 18 months.
Partner or family involvement is an integral part of treatment. We also encourage families to bring infants when visiting their loved ones in inpatient treatment to support maternal bonding and family contact. However, protected sleep is a key factor in the recovery process so infants will not stay overnight.
Our team of highly trained doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and expressive therapists work together to create individualized treatment plans and comprehensive care.
We offer the following services for inpatient treatment:
- wellness planning;
- dedicated space for pumping, nursing, and family visitation;
- protected sleep times;
- extended visiting hours to maximize positive mother-baby interaction;
- hospital-grade breast pumps and refrigeration for breast milk;
- family and partner assisted psychotherapy/team meetings;
- nutrition consultation, as needed;
- discharge planning and transition to outpatient treatment either with the HMHI Maternal Mental Health Clinic or other community providers, as needed; and
- group and expressive therapy, such as:
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT),
- dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and
(Please note that women with complicated pregnancies or third trimester pregnancies will receive services in our Inpatient Medical Psychiatry unit due to their need for increased medical supervision).
We accept most commercial insurance plans and offer self-pay rates.
Find a Specialist
Perinatal Mood Disorders & Anxiety
Many women experience the “baby blues” after giving birth. However, if your symptoms persist or get worse, you're not alone. An estimated 15 to 20 percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum (after childbirth) depression and anxiety — the most well-known perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), which occur immediately before or after giving birth.
Other types of PMAD include:
- bipolar disorder,
- obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD),
- postpartum psychosis, and
- postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder.
Symptoms of perinatal depression and anxiety may include:
- severe mood swings,
- “scary thoughts” about your baby,
- sleep disturbances,
- feelings of intense shame or guilt,
- loss of appetite,
- and more.
These symptoms may develop at any point during your pregnancy or may appear within a year after giving birth. If these symptoms are left untreated, they may cause lasting negative health effects for both mom and baby, as well as spouses and other family members.
Early screening and intervention for postpartum depression and other PMADs will lead to better outcomes for both you and your baby. If you seek counseling to address any concerns you may have about your pregnancy, parenting, or postpartum wellness, you could greatly reduce your risk of a mental health crisis during the postpartum period as you transition to parenthood.
Birth Trauma & Postpartum PTSD
Postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is experienced by approximately nine percent of women after childbirth, many of which keep quiet about it. This disorder could have lasting negative effects on mothers if left untreated. It is important for women to recognize that this is a result of real or perceived trauma. Some causes of childbirth trauma may include:
- an unplanned C-section;
- use of forceps or vacuum to deliver the baby;
- your baby going to the NICU (neonatial intensive care unit);
- stillbirth or pregnancy loss; and
- severe physical complications or injuries related to the pregnancy or childbirth, such as:
- severe postpartum hemorrhage (blood loss from a broken blood vessel),
- perineal trauma (area between the genitals and anus), or
- unexpected hysterectomy (surgery to remove all or part of the uterus).
Women who have a history of sexual abuse or assault are at a higher risk of experiencing postpartum PTSD due to pregnancy-related or obstetric appointments, delivery, and medical intervention.
Postpartum PTSD Symptoms
Common signs of postpartum PTSD may include:
- re-experiencing the trauma or events (flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts);
- increased anxiety or panic attacks;
- worsening depression or irritability;
- avoidance of the stimuli associated with the events (people, places, feelings, details of the event, etc.);
- difficulty sleeping; and
- increased alertness or easily startled.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, our team is here to help provide resources, education, and healing.
Pregnancy Loss: Miscarriages & Stillbirths
Grieving a pregnancy loss is real no matter when your pregnancy loss occurs. There are a variety of pregnancy loss types such as:
- miscarriage (spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy),
- stillbirth or fetal demise (pregnancy loss after the 20th week), and
- abortion (a procedure performed to end a pregnancy).
The most common mental health concerns with pregnancy and infant loss are depression, anxiety, and relationship conflict. After a pregnancy loss, a woman’s body is still going through significant hormonal changes. These may act as constant reminders of the loss she just experienced, which may make her susceptible to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADS). Pregnancy loss is also considered a traumatic event which affects both men and women differently. This could cause strain on the relationship.
When to Seek Treatment
You should schedule an appointment with one of our providers if you experience any of the following:
- feeling down,
- excessive guilt,
- sleep disturbances,
- intense feelings of shame,
- loss of appetite,
- numbness, or
You and your mental health provider will collaborate to create a treatment plan that is tailored for your own healing. Everyone grieves differently and it is important that you reach out for the support you need during this time.
Infertility & Mental Health
Infertility has a profound impact on a person’s physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual, and financial health. and on the person as a whole. The longer the situation persists, the more difficult it may be for fertility patients to navigate their emotions.
The most common mental health concerns reported by fertility patients are symptoms of:
- depression, and
- relationship strain.
In fact, more patients report symptoms of anxiety and depression when the medical treatments for conception are more physically intrusive.
Types of Therapies
Our mental health professionals guide patients through grief and loss and help them confront numerous possible medical decisions. We provide patients with a safe space to process the emotions they are experiencing and tools to reduce any signs of stress, depression, and anxiety. These tools may include:
- cognitive behavioral strategies,
- mind-body connection and the relaxation response,
- positive coping skills training, and
- healthy communication skills.
Communication skills training and couples counseling helps reduce any stress that infertility inflicts on marital and non-marital relationships.
Having a NICU Baby
It can be stressful to see your newborn baby in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). You may feel shocked, scared, or overwhelmed, even if your baby was expected to spend some time in the NICU.
As your hormones are adjusting during this time, you may feel a rollercoaster of emotions. Approximately 70 percent of mothers of NICU infants will experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD) including postpartum PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
If you are feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone and it is important to get yourself mental health support as soon as possible.
NICU Mothers Support Group
It can feel scary, isolating, and lonely to have a newborn in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), but you do not have to experience this on your own. The first step is to seek out others that will understand, offer guidance, and help you navigate one of the hardest moments of your life.
If you or a loved one have thought or experienced any of the following, our NICU support group may be a good fit.
- You can’t believe this is happening to you and your baby
- You’re scared about your baby’s short term and long term health
- You have conflicting feelings/emotions regarding the birth and first days of your child’s life
- You’re overwhelmed by the beeps, wires, and individuals inside the NICU
- You have no idea how to get answers regarding your child’s progress
- You’re unaware of any resources available, including meals, rooms to stay, or support groups
- You feel isolated and alone…others “don’t understand”
- You feel at odds with your partner in the support you need and the support you give
- News about your baby’s health is unsettling or confusing
- You struggle to keep your emotions “under control”
- You feel ignored by those in the NICU
- You feel jealous when other NICU babies are released
- You feel detached from your baby
- You’re struggling to navigate breast feeding or pumping and are unsure of where to turn
- You feel guilty for being upset at the childbirth you weren’t able to experience
- You feel alone in dealing with any or all of the above
NICU Support Group Benefits
- Meeting others at various stages of NICU life
- Support with navigating your time in the NICU
- Support from those that have since graduated the NICU
- Led by a NICU/and other ICU survivor
- Exploration of feelings and emotions surrounding live in the NICU
- Resources available to ask for additional help
- Support advocating for your needs and your baby’s needs.
Email us for group times and enrollment information: MaternalMentalHealth@hsc.utah.edu
Free Postpartum Support Group
Our Perinatal Mental Health program is offering a drop-in support group for expecting and new mothers seeking peer support within a confidential and safe space. This participant-driven group is facilitated by mental health and social work master's level students.
Weekly discussion topics may include:
- depression and anxiety,
- balancing motherhood with other life roles,
- sex and sexuality,
- body image,
- ocial support/social life changes,
- emotional/spiritual changes,
- decision making as a parent/partner,
- change in spousal relationship,
- financial pressures/budgeting, and
- everyday stresses and pressures of being a mom.
We host meetings every Tuesday from 7 pm to 8 pm via Zoom. A link will be sent to you after registration.
To register or find out more information, email us at: MaternalMentalHealth@hsc.utah.edu