MaMHA and the Washington State Department of Health

Washington Maternal Mental Health Access (MaMHA) is a funded project through the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) that will develop a program to train and support members of primary care clinics to improve perinatal suicide risk. The first four months of the project will include three introductory webinars to provide initial content and to engage a broad audience for a subsequent Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) learning collaborative (one year project).

Nationally, approximately 700 women die each year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. CDC estimates 60% of these deaths are preventable. In Washington State, the Maternal Mortality Review Panel was established to review maternal deaths within the state and produce a biennial report with findings and recommendations to prevent future maternal deaths. The learning collaborative and the related introductory webinar topics will be informed by the findings from the state's Maternal Mortality Review panel on maternal mortality rates in the state.

Findings from the 2014-2016 Maternal Mortality Review Panel identified 100 pregnancy-associated deaths in 2014-2016, which are deaths that occur during pregnancy or the first year after pregnancy. The report found the leading underlying cause of death among pregnancy-related deaths (N=30) to be behavioral health conditions, including suicide and overdose (30%). Factors identified in the report that contributed to these rates included access to health care services, gaps in continuity of care (especially postpartum), gaps in clinical skill and quality of care, and lack of care coordination at the provider, facility, and systems levels.

MaMHA webinar series and learning collaborative content and session leads

  • Ian Bennett MD PhD, Depts of Family Medicine and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington
  • Nadejda Bespalova MD, Dept of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington
  • Ashley Heald, MA, CPHQ, the Aims Center, Dept of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington