A diverse group of social service providers has just received $2.5 million in federal money to help New Haven mothers suffering from mental health issues. WNPR’s Neena Satija reports.
Women are most likely to suffer from mental illness during their child-bearing years, and poor minority mothers in cities are the least likely to get treatment. So in New Haven, a variety of different agencies have joined together to do something about it. They call themselves the New Haven Mental Health Outreach for Mothers partnership, and include the Yale Department of Psychiatry, the Diaper Bank, and the New Haven Housing Authority. One of their main goals, says assistant psychiatry professor Megan Smith, is making mothers feel comfortable seeking help.
SMITH: “Perhaps one of the things women describe as taking the most pride in their lives was their ability to parent and be a mother, and so for them to seek mental health services really challenged that feeling of pride.”
The partnership has already interviewed 513 mothers in the city about their own experiences. Some of their fears include retaliation from spouses for seeking treatment. And undocumented mothers fear being reported to immigration. A good way to ease that fear, Smith says, is to bring the treatment to them. It’s called a mental health intervention in a community setting. One example is a community room that already exists at a New Haven grocery store, where women can go for group therapy sessions.
SMITH: “You literally turn left after the beer, and you go up the elevator and there’s a room up there, and you hear that your deli kiosk order is ready when you’re up there, but it is in the supermarket.”
With the federal grant, the partnership hopes to expand this idea into other settings like housing complexes.