Policy Resource

Virginia Deepens Work on Maternal Depression Through Home Visiting

Feb 9, 2016

Virginia's success in addressing maternal depression is due in large part to the commitment of state leaders to address the systems and infrastructure issues (e.g., reimbursement for screening, provider training, and quality improvement).

Statewide infrastructure enhancements elevated awareness, understanding, and appropriate response for women at risk of or experiencing depression and/or substance abuse challenges.

Virginia’s Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) leadership has an unwavering commitment to using data to track progress and re-shape practice. Through the MIECHV grant, the state has been able to deepen interagency work on maternal depression. The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), and Department of Health (VDH) developed the Behavioral Health Risks Screening Tool for Pregnant Women and Women of Childbearing Age as a brief screening to detect risks. Practitioners use the tool to determine the need for further review, referral and/or intervention. The state Medicaid office informed health providers that they could receive reimbursement when administering the screening tool during each trimester and within sixty days postpartum and ensured that the parent screen could be covered by the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program to address parent well-being as a critical factor in child well-being. The centralized intake system operating in four regions of the state as part of the MIECHV evaluation project also uses the behavioral health risk screen during intake and initial assessment.

Virginia’s Home Visiting Consortium developed training modules about mental health disorders and a three-part training on screening and brief intervention skills. Session schedules are posted online so that staff can enroll. Several local sites have expanded service delivery to add either a nurse or behavioral health provider to the home visiting team. In addition, the state MIECHV sites are actively engaged in continuous quality improvement efforts using a learning collaborative approach. Data from depression screenings, for instance, will be used to inform future quality improvement plans.

Reviewed July 2018.

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