Perinatal Mental Health

Pregnancy and a new baby can bring a range of emotions. Many new and expecting parents feel overwhelmed, sad, anxious, or exhausted at different times during the perinatal period (the period that starts with pregnancy and extends at least 12 months after birth). Mental health disorders are common for parents to experience anytime during this period and include depression, anxiety, substance misuse, and psychosis. For example, we know that 1 in 7 moms and 1 in 10 dads suffer from postpartum depression.

To assist providers in recognizing and treating these disorders, the Bureau of Family Health offers consultation services and educational opportunities to improve provider capacity around perinatal mental health. We also have staff available to link families and providers to community and mental health resources that provide support during the perinatal period. 

Recognizing Symptoms: Screening for Perinatal Depression

Act 188 of the 2022 Louisiana Regular Legislative Session requires Louisiana’s post-natal and pediatric providers to screen for the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression or related mental health disorders through a validated screening tool under the recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

The Louisiana Developmental Screening Guidelines follow the AAP recommendations of screening caregivers for postpartum depression at the 1, 2, 4, and 6-month well-child visits. Louisiana Medicaid will reimburse for these screenings when using the validated tools listed below – use CPT code 96161. Refer to the Medicaid bulletin and fee schedule for more information. You can learn more about the recommended screening tools and how to use them in the Developmental Screening Toolkit.

Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)

Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2)

Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9)

Safe Environment for Every Child (SEEK)

Other validated screening tools are available to screen pregnant and postpartum persons for depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, and social determinants of health. Click here for more information on those tools.

Perinatal Depression Screening Quick Guide for Providers

The Quick Guide for Caregiver Perinatal Depression Screening is another resource providers can reference when implementing screenings in pediatric clinic settings.

Mental Health Consultation Services for Providers

The Louisiana Provider-to-Provider Consultation Line (PPCL) is a no-cost telehealth consultation and education program that helps health care providers address the behavioral and mental health needs of pediatric patients (ages 0-21) and perinatal patients. The program aims to increase the capacity to screen, diagnose, treat, and refer patients to supportive services by integrating behavioral health into clinical settings. PPCL gives providers access to:

  • Consultation on diagnoses, medications, and psychotherapy interventions for a wide range of behavioral health needs (e.g., mental health care guides, screening forms).
  • Guidance on pediatric and perinatal behavioral health topics and issues through TeleECHO series, virtual webinars, and in-person training events.
  • Resources to connect with community partners and agencies (e.g., intensive in-home providers, support groups).

Providers can call (833) 721-2881 to speak with a mental health consultant or psychiatrist about their patients or fill out this form to request a consult.

Resources to Share with Families

Act 188 of the 2022 Louisiana Regular Legislative Session requires all hospitals and birthing centers that provide labor and delivery services to provide pregnant women with information about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Below are some resources you can share with families to help them learn about the signs, symptoms, treatment, and resource options for PMADS.