State announces grant for perinatal behavioral health

Posted at 8:56 AM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-20 10:56:41-05

HELENA- Governor Steve Bullock and the Montana Healthcare Foundation(MHCF) have announced more than $5 million in federal and private funding to improve care for pregnant and postpartum women through the Perinatal Behavioral Health Initiative(PBHI).

The goal of the five-year initiative is to help healthcare providers across the state to address behavioral health challenges, such as mental health disorders and substance abuse, for perinatal mothers.

In order to accomplish this, PBHI will connect prenatal care providers, a behavioral health provider, and a care coordinator to create a clinical team.

“This will help women get treatment right there at the prenatal visits so you don’t have to make an appointment and go to a treatment center across the state or even across town. You can really get services hand in hand with your prenatal visits,” said CEO of MHCF Aaron Wernham, M.D.

“This innovative new approach recognizes that perinatal drug and alcohol use has serious impacts on the health of children and families in Montana and that we must do more to solve this complex problem,” said Governor Bullock. “This public-private partnership will help build stronger support networks for pregnant women and create a foundation of care that will improve the lives of our youngest children and the people who raise and care for them.”

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) was awarded a $3.2 million Health Resources and Services Administration grant and the MHCF pledged up to $1.2 million in additional funding with support expected to continue through 2023.

Family practitioners, obstetricians, midwives, and rural hospitals are all encouraged to apply. The deadline for applications is January 31, 2019.

PBHI hopes to support at least one practice in each community with hospitals that deliver babies.

Member Health Services Bureau Chief Jen Rieden said the long-term plan of PBHI is to create sustainability in perinatal behavioral care for healthcare providers.

“In Montana, there’s a lot of rural areas that do not have access to behavioral health at all,” said Rieden. “This will increase that access and sustainability will make sure they’re there for the long term.”

Rieden hopes that the program will help to make sure everyone has access to behavioral health in Montana.

DPHHS and MHCF will work together to choose the grantees and hope to have practices starting March 1, 2019.

PBHI will build on the previously launched MHCF-funded Solving Perinatal Drug and Alcohol Use Initiative which already used in hospitals in Butte, Kalispell, Missoula, and Great Falls.

MHCF is a 501(c)3 private foundation that was founded in 2013. Their mission is to improve the health and well-being of all Montanans by making strategic investments that support access to quality and affordable health services, conducting evidence-driven research and analysis, and addressing the upstream influences on health and illness.