Mental Health Professionals

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What are four reasons that NICU parents need support?

  1. NICU parents encounter a variety of stressors both during and after their baby’s NICU stay, which heighten their chances of developing postpartum depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and anxiety disorders. Their usual support networks may not be available to them, or friends and family may not understand their situation.
  2. Parent-infant bonding can be disrupted during a baby’s stay in the NICU, and this can have long-lasting adverse consequences on the baby’s development and on family relationships.
  3. Providing support to a baby’s parents and family is just as important as providing medical care to the baby.
  4. Every family deserves the opportunity to get the best possible start in life.



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Recommendations for NICU Mental Health Professionals:  Read just the recommendations by the Workgroup on Psychosocial Support of NICU Parents, or read the full article from the December, 2015 Supplement to Journal of Perinatology.

Bibliography on Mental Health Issues in the NICU:  This contains a comprehensive listing of references on the screening of NICU parents for postpartum depression, posttraumatic stress disorder and other mental health concerns; treatment and interventions specific to the NICU parent population; how parental depression affects infant development; and general background information on the occurrence of psychological distress, PPD, and PTSD in NICU parents.  It was compiled by the National Perinatal Association Workgroup on Recommendations for Psychosocial Support of NICU Parents.

Talking Points about Hiring a NICU Psychologist:  This includes talking points for presenting a case to hospital administration about why a NICU psychologist would be a good addition to your NICU team.

Job Description for NICU Psychologist:  This job description was written using a compilation of descriptions from several different NICUs.  Each institution will have to make its own decisions regarding its needs and desires; the criteria described are not absolute and are meant to be used only as a guide.

Standards for Social Work Services in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, developed by the National Association of Perinatal Social Workers.

Screening for Perinatal Depression, ACOG:  Recommendations developed by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Perinatal Depression Screening: Tools for Obstetricians-Gynecologists, developed by District II of American College of Obsetricians and Gynecologists.

Prevalence Perinatal Mood Disorders – Segre: This is an informational handout describing the prevalence of maternal depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress syndrome.  Written by Lisa Segre, PhD, psychologist.

Psychosocial Assessment and Depression Screening in Perinatal Women:  Position Statement from the Marcé International Society for Perinatal Mental Health, 2013.

Issues in Documentation and Coding-Billing for NMHPs:  Information primarily for psychologists and/or psychiatrists about how to chart information about parents when they are not patients in the hospital, and suggested billing codes.  Written by the Workgroup team on NICU Mental Health Professionals.


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Depression and Postpartum Depression: Resource Overview from American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

MedEdPPD:  This is an NIMH-supported educational initiative for primary care providers treating women with or at risk for postpartum depression.  The site has further links for how to screen for, diagnose, manage, and educate patients about postpartum depression.  It also has downloadable brochures for patients: English Brochure on PPD and Spanish brochure on PPD.

Postpartum Stress Center:  This site offers professional training for prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety.

STEP-PPD:  “Support and Training to Enhance Primary Care for Postpartum Depression” provides information and resources to help providers better understand the symptoms of postpartum depression.  The site also offers a free online training course.

NICU Psychologists’ Resources, on the website of National Perinatal Association.

NICU Psychologists’ Consulting Calls:  a forum for participants in the group to share best practices and resources, and to discuss issues and challenges; also on the website of the National Perinatal Association.  A website with resources for parents experiencing postpartum depression, started by a couple who went through the experience.



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Postpartum Progress, see all their tools for clinicians.

Postpartum Support International, many resources are available for professionals (as well as parents) on this website.



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Are you interested in having someone speak to your staff, organization, or network about best practices in the provision of support for NICU parents by mental health professionals? Click on the icon to go to our Speaker’s Bureau page to learn more about these speakers.

Erika Goyer, National Perinatal Association, family advocate

Mike Hynan, PhD, psychologist

Steve Lassen, PhD, psychologist

Cheryl Milford, EdS, psychologist

Chavis Patterson, PhD, psychologist

Lisa Segre, PhD, psychologist