Maternal Mental Health Care for Better Patient Outcomes

Updated on December 28, 2023

A new approach to connecting pregnant women and mothers with mental health assistance 

Maternal mental health disorders (MMHD) are the highest driver of pregnancy related medical and non-medical related costs, totaling ~$18.1 billion in the US each year.  Yet, while the mental health of women during the perinatal period is critical to optimal outcomes for both mothers and baby, the U.S. falls woefully short of providing the care, services, and resources pregnant women and mothers need to maintain positive mental health.

Among the most common pregnancy related morbidities, MMHDs impact approximately one in five women. Of those living with an MMHD, one in five will also experience suicidal ideation or attempt self-harm, with data from detailed maternal mortality reviews in 36 states demonstrating mental health conditions to be the overall leading cause of pregnancy related deaths.

MMHDs are also associated with perinatal complications and operative deliveries, and are a considerable contributor to adverse neonatal, infant, and child health outcomes., While research shows maternal depression is also closely associated with preterm births, low birth weights, stillbirths, and smaller for gestational age.  

The cost of not treating MMH conditions is $32,000 per mother-infant pair each year in the U.S.

Barriers to Access

While mental health resources exist, a lack of available psychiatrists and other mental health professionals across the US, and difficulty finding providers within a patient’s own insurance network, creates immediate difficulties in access for patients.

This is further confounded for pregnant women and mothers by a lack of integration between primary health physicians and obstetricians with mental health providers. Most electronic health record (EHR) systems lack the ability to seamlessly integrate with mental health services; with no central system through which to coordinate mental health care on a patient’s behalf, women are left to seek help on their own. 

For ethnic and racial minorities, and women of low socioeconomic status, for whom the risk of MMHDs are even higher, accessing mental health services can be even harder. Lack of finances, lack of access to transportation and cultural stigmatism of mental illness impose further barriers to those seeking help, with structural racism and discrimination adding to a lack of culturally appropriate care.   

Black women are twice as likely as white women to experience MMH conditions but only half as likely to receive care.

A New Approach

A new solution, developed by OB/GYNs, is revolutionizing maternal health care, ensuring pregnant women and new mothers are no longer left to navigate the complex web of mental health services alone.

Mother Goose Health’s maternity care management platform coordinates all aspects of care for patients, integrating with the provider’s EMR, existing workflows and health information exchanges to unify the patient care pathway. Streamlining the coordination of mental health care by centralizing all practitioner data, including patient care plans and recommendations, and addressing disproportionate risk, care gaps and social determinants, Mother Goose Health assists providers in identifying patients struggling with mental health challenges, and ensures mothers receive the mental health care that they would otherwise fail to access. 

By proactively managing and addressing patient’s mental health needs and partnering with mental health services, Mother Goose Health improves health outcomes for mother and child, consequently reducing costs for providers, payors, and health plans. 

Ken Levey, MD, MPH, and chief executive officer at Mother Goose Health, explains: “We leverage data analytics and predictive risk modeling to identify and screen a patient’s MMHD risk. Our platform then coordinates the results and connects patients to appropriate mental health services to ensure access to treatment.” 

Joseph Jospitre, chief executive officer and co-founder of SohoMD, a mental health partner to Mother Goose Health, says: “Mother Goose Health seamlessly integrates mental health services within the treatment pathway, directly connecting patients with mental health services and expert physicians, as well as matching to preferred providers.”

Benefits for Mothers and Babies

Mother Goose Health both identifies risk and screens patients for MMHDs, ensuring access to treatment by identifying a suitable mental health practitioner and scheduling an appointment for the patient, thus reducing potential for complications during pregnancy. They also:

  • Assist the mother in navigating a complex maternal health system
  • Enable postpartum monitoring for faster interventions
  • Help to support health literacy and understanding 
  • Provide support for more appropriate utilization of maternal health resources and health plan benefits
  • Increase the potential for healthier, happier mother and baby

Benefits for Providers

Mother Goose Health increases provider efficiency, improves pregnancy outcomes, and enhances patient engagement and experience, as well as:

  • Provide early and ongoing rising risk detection with real-time escalation for intervention
  • Deliver closed loop referrals
  • Provide a dedicated network of maternity care coordinators and services
  • Deliver patient support alongside the physician office
  • Optimize pay for performance revenue and success in value-based care arrangements
  • Elevate the patient experience

Benefits for health plans

By addressing the treatment gap for MMHDs, Mother Goose Health improves outcomes for both mothers and babies and significantly lowers costs by improving resource utilization and reducing hospital and NICU admissions. Health plans also benefit from:

  • One vendor relationship in place of multiple
  • Improve performance on quality and outcome measures
  • Reduce total cost of care
  • Early identification of pregnancy and ongoing risk detection
  • Member and population level data insights
  • Enhance member engagement and satisfaction

The Impact of Access

Even though mood and anxiety disorders are among the most common complications during pregnancy or in the year after the birth, maternal mental health disorders are often underdiagnosed, and untreated or under-treated.

By effectively integrating mental health services within the maternal care pathway, closing the gaps between provider, patient, health plan, and secondary providers, Mother Goose Health not only facilitates improved patient outcomes but reduces associated healthcare utilization, and lowers costs for both providers and payors.

To learn more about how Mother Goose Health can support your delivery of maternal health care, visit:

Ken Levey
Ken Levey, MD, MPH

Ken Levey, MD, MPH, and chief executive officer of Mother Goose Health.