An app to thrive

(May 2018) In 2016 Dignity Health Foundation received funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to integrate emotional wellness and mental health content into the Dignity Health My Baby mobile application.

A young mother holds her baby while a nurse looks on.Today, Dignity Health patients in Arizona, California, and Nevada can utilize the My Baby app to track pregnancy milestones, identify symptoms and issues, and connect to their local Dignity Health hospital or birthing center services.

Embedded in the app is a 10-question screening tool, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, which is rolled out to users at multiple points during their pregnancy and following the birth of the child. The tool identifies users who are at risk for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. App users can self-administer the screening tool and contact their provider for referral to resources if needed. Already, 70 percent of My Baby users access the perinatal mood and anxiety disorders screening tool.

“Universal maternal mental health screening for pregnant and postpartum women is recommended by the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics,” says Barbara Sheehy, manager of the maternal mental health project. “At Dignity Health, we’re providing women with multiple opportunities to learn about emotional wellness and maternal mental health risks, to be screened, and to know who to call for services when needed. The My Baby app offers an excellent tool to engage pregnant women, new moms, and care providers in an ongoing conversation about mental health, and to integrate the topic into routine maternity care.”

Screenshot of the app showing a list of potential symptoms

Partnering to care for mom and baby

Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression, are the most common medical complication associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Yet, out of the 900,000 women in the U.S. who experience this each year, only 50,000 receive professional help.

It is estimated that, at minimum, 15 percent of pregnant and postpartum women, and an even higher percentage of women of low socioeconomic status, experience anxiety, depression or psychosis. If left undetected and untreated, these conditions can lead to serious health risks for the mother, can negatively affect the mother/child bond and the child’s long-term physical, emotional and developmental health, and ultimately, can be devastating for families.

Dignity Health Foundation is working to change that by partnering with local and national organizations to provide the care and resources new moms need to stay healthy and to raise healthy babies. Dignity Health’s vision is to be a national model of excellence that actively promotes maternal and infant well-being and reduces the burden of illness that is associated with untreated or inappropriately treated perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Help give families a better start and support the next generation

Dignity Health Foundation’s goal is to benefit both mothers and their newborns, so that each generation can thrive. We ask you to join us in giving hope to new mothers and their babies by supporting the My Baby app and other resources and services for mothers and babies. Please visit Dignity Health Foundation’s Postpartum Initiative for more information.