EmmaWell: Taking a proactive approach to maternal mental health

Updated: Jul 13

It’s been a while since we last wrote a blog, as we have been hard at work sharpening our “go-to-market” and refining the services that we offer to our community.

Today we want to share with you (1) our view on the current status of maternal mental health (MMH), (2) why we are more inspired than ever to do our part in solving the issues surrounding MMH care, and (3) why we think EmmaWell's digital program is a vital supplement to the traditional prenatal care model.



Maternal Mental Health Conditions

Maternal Mental Health (MMH) conditions are the most prevalent pregnancy complication, and beyond the myriad societal and personal impacts, they are also extremely expensive to treat.


At baseline, about 1 in 5 expectant moms, and during these COVID times, over 2 in 5 expectant moms (and their children) are impacted by these issues. This can cost health systems upwards of $30 per mother-child dyad (additional cost of care for parent and baby). To place this into context, this is about 5x the cost of gestational diabetes and roughly equal to the health system costs of preeclampsia and general diabetes care management.


EmmaWell’s Digital Program


Our work at EmmaWell to provide support, guidance, and education to expectant parents has always helped to identify, prevent, and manage MMH conditions.


Over the past several months we have combined many of our existing services and added new ones to create the EmmaWell Digital Program.


Our program is comprehensive, time-bound, and structured and comprises virtual therapy (1-on-1 and group), guidance, and education (on-demand psychoeducation course and live birth prep and parenting webinars), which is all reinforced by our “wraparound services” which is our mobile app and a maternal coach.


Expectant and new parents who screen at moderate risk for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders too often "fall through the cracks" in the traditional model of prenatal care. We aim to proactively enroll these parents into the EmmaWell program, with the goal of both managing and reducing existing symptoms as well as potentially preventing the development of perinatal depression or another perinatal mood disorder.


Each part of our program is proven to work based on evidence-based academic research and supports the existing ACOG (American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists) guidelines and recommendations. Our care model is also tech-enabled (and highly scalable), and inspired by other virtual behavioral health companies with similar proactive patient engagement models, making it a familiar and straightforward partnership with healthcare payers, providers, and employers.


Now is the Time


The refrain for those of us working in maternal mental health is that it has historically been “under-recognized, under-diagnosed, and under-treated”, but we have seen two significant positive trends recently:

  1. We have seen general awareness increasing, due to celebrities like Alanis Morrisette, Chrissy Teigen, and Megan Markle (and many more!) opening up about their experiences. We believe, and hope, that as more prominent individuals continue to actively “speak the secret”, we will continue to see normalization and recognition of these issues in society.

  2. We’ve also seen the diagnosis of MMH conditions increasing, driven in large part by ACOG's 2018 recommendation regarding universal screening during pregnancy and the postpartum period. We are thankful for the amazing screening tools that are now available, including [Ingram Screening, etc.]


However, these positive developments are also happening within the context of a continued and persistent shortage of perinatal specialist therapists. This combination, unfortunately, has the potential to further exacerbate the care gap in the under-treatment of maternal mental health conditions.


And this is exactly why we believe that our tech-enabled, scalable program and proactive, preventative approach has such an opportunity to make an outsized positive impact on the maternal mental health of our community.


With warmth and wellness,


Your EmmaWell Team