Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Trainings

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Earlier this year I was awarded The Polinger Family Foundation Grant through Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care. As some of you may know, for the past 2 years, I've been working with Mary's Center in their "Train the Trainer" Program, which is designed to build capacity in the DC/MD/ VA community for training specialists in perinatal mental health. I've been invited to do several perinatal mental health trainings with different clinician groups in our community including the Children's National Medical Center Neonatal ICU Fellows in April 20017, and the Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care / American College of
OBGYN Safety Action Series in May 2017. In February 2018, I was awarded the Polinger Foundation grant to further support this mission. I designed project as  a pilot initiative to assess the feasibility of services, and to understand the needs of the community. 

So far this year I've trained nurses at Pathways to Housing, and case managers at McClendon Center. Both Pathways to Housing and McClendon Center are community mental health clinics in DC which  serve a low resource population suffering from severe and persistent mental illness. 

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In April, I held my first patient education session on this topic at our GWU Five Trimesters Clinic. In organizing and planning these sessions, I worked closely with the GWU OBGYN and Mid-Wifery departments. This was a big perk; the way healthcare is structured can have it feel like we are operating in isolation. There is a significant interest in both the patient and the clinician population for more knowledge about PMADS - especially quality, accessible information about medications in pregnancy.

The women in the group felt they could utilize the information and that it changed how they prepared themselves for the post partum period.  Evaluations have been positive - with both groups reporting that they feel more confident in talking with patients/providers about PMADS, and feeling that the training will change some aspect of their behavior going forward. 


Me speaking at the American College of Nurse Midwives DC Affiliate Conference on Women's Health and Wellness in April 2018

Me speaking at the American College of Nurse Midwives DC Affiliate Conference on Women's Health and Wellness in April 2018

This pilot project goes through October 2018. I have a couple more trainings in the works over the next few months! Through this work I've gotten a more clear picture of how to tailor the training for clinicians versus patients. I was surprised by how well received the patient education group was - there seems to be a desire for something like this to occur regularly. The women who came to the group were certainly looking for facts and data, and implicitly there was an underlying desire for connection and to process some of the fear and uncertainty around pregnancy and post-partum. I'm hoping to continue doing this type of work going forward. 




the society for the study of psychiatry and culture


I had a great time at the annual Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture meeting at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at University of San Diego . The best part of being in this organization its getting together with like minded folks (including anthropologists, social workers, psychologists, and physicians) to have open dialogue about psychiatry, the meaning of psychiatry, how we define what's "normal" and how these definitions vary from culture to culture. I love that in this group there is a curiosity for really looking at ourselves and our work from so many angles, and not just the standard medical model. 


Here's a picture of my talk on my work in Bangalore in collaboration with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS). For this project, I partnered with my colleagues from NIMHANS - Dr. Srikala Bharath MD and Dr. N Manjunatha MD, as well as Dr. Allen Dyer MD PhD at GWU. Our field work was done at Sakalawara Community Mental Health Center, which serves as a psychiatric clinic for villages surrounding Bengaluru.  Using an ethnographic approach, we interviewed women from the villages who were being treated for depression and anxiety. Our interviews focused on understanding what it felt like to be living with depression as a woman in Bangalore, and how each woman made sense of her condition, with a goal of gaining a more nuanced understanding of how culture and mental health affect each other. Some of the most compelling themes of these rich interviews came out around motherhood, and how tapping into their core identity as mothers was a socially acceptable means for activating agency and assertive thinking for these women. In my talk, I discussed how assertive coping in this manner can fit into the Hindu belief structure of karma.