Mental health issues have always existed in pregnancy, but many barriers — stigma not least among them — have prevented mothers from speaking up about them or accessing necessary care. Now with the world bracing for a second wave of the pandemic and heading into winter and the holiday season — times that are known for spikes in mental health issues — the need to provide mental health support and education to mothers is more critical than ever.
Even before the pandemic forced practices to transition the majority of care to digital, technology was being weighed as a means to bridge the barriers that prevent 57% of Americans who need mental health care from receiving it.
Expecting mothers are particularly vulnerable to this failure to receive treatment, partially because prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety are severely underidentified, underreported, and underdiagnosed. Additionally, the traditional safety nets for these women — the friends, family, and community that might identify and recognize their struggles with mental health issues — have been removed by pandemic restrictions and replaced by isolation, compounding the problem.
Technology can reach these women, often anxious to leave their homes even for a doctor’s appointment, offering them a safe and convenient way to assess their mental state and access resources and solutions, and connecting them to their care team and provider when they report concerning symptoms.
Yet while research has identified the benefits of technology for managing mental health, it has also uncovered risks. As with many digital health tools, data privacy is a major concern, and development frequently outpaces regulatory measures and industry-standards that can help evaluate effectiveness.
Jollitot, in developing their product, has taken these concerns into account to understand the sensitivities and barriers involved. We have developed a solution to help providers and care teams coordinate to best meet the needs of our moms, to make sure no one slips through the gaps.