Every year in the United States, 800,000 women suffer from maternal mental health conditions ranging from depression to anxiety to bipolar illness. Suicide and overdose are the leading causes of death for women the year after giving birth.
The good news is that these conditions can be treated. The bad news is that 75% of these women do not receive the care they need.
“Maternal mental health isn’t discussed enough or recognized,” says Pamela McKie, L.I.S.W.-S, chief program officer for Best Point Education & Behavioral Health. “We have many outstanding partners in Greater Cincinnati, and we’re pulling together in a true community collaborative to address this serious issue.”
Thanks to a $240,000 grant from bi3, a local grant-making initiative, Best Point is leading an 18-month project to transform maternal mental health care in Greater Cincinnati.
Best Point is partnering with Every Child Succeeds, Cradle Cincinnati, TriHealth, UC Health, Groundwork Ohio, Hamilton County Public Health and others to develop a strategic plan to tackle the disparities in women’s health for long-term change.
“We have brought together leaders in health care and behavioral health to identify and fill the gaps in maternal health care and ensure that women have access to the care they need when they need it,” McKie says.
Experience Makes it Work
Best Point is a local nonprofit dedicated to serving the most vulnerable children and families in our communities. Earlier this year, two of Cincinnati’s longest-standing agencies for children —St. Aloysius (founded in 1832) and The Children’s Home (founded in 1864) — merged to become Best Point.
“The two entities provided complimentary services, so it just made sense to integrate the organizations. We can now provide more resources and services to more people more efficiently,” says Jeff Ryan, marketing manager.
Its long history of successfully supporting at-risk children and their families with specialized care to help them thrive positioned Best Point as a natural fit for leading the maternal mental health project.
“Given our experience and knowledge of mental health and its prevalence, we realize how crucial it is to improve maternal mental health for the good of the mom, the children and the entire family,” McKie says. “It is a part of our continuum of early childhood services, which serves to give youth the best start possible.”
That continuum includes programs that nurture the community’s earliest learners through high-quality childcare, school readiness, after- school enrichment and summer camp experiences. These programs occur on and off campus, helping a primarily at-risk population overcome trauma and other conditions so they can succeed in school and life.
One of Best Point’s newest programs is the Heidt Center of Excellence, which helps students with autism in the sixth through 12th grades achieve academic success and develop social, career and life skills.
“It’s a typical high school with an atypical student body,” McKie says. “There are many services for young children on the autism spectrum. The Heidt Center of Excellence is a robust and much-needed program for older youth.”
The need continues to grow, particularly in the wake of COVID-19, for organizations like Best Point to be innovative and inventive when working with at-risk and special needs populations, and they have done just that — including opening a Pediatric Mental Health Urgent Care last year and expanding mental health services in schools. When kids were not in school, many were without the social, educational and other supports they needed. “The waiting list is heavily weighted on referrals from school districts.
We’re in nearly 80 schools,” says Melinda Harris Black, L.I.S.W.-S, director of intake and engagement. “But, if you have a need, go ahead and call and get on the list. That way, we can move forward quickly when we have an opening.”
Combining Resources to Serve More Children and Families
St. Aloysius and The Children’s Home of Cincinnati have a combined total of nearly 350 years of serving vulnerable children and families in the Greater Cincinnati area. This year, they joined forces to become Best Point Education & Behavioral Health, maximizing re- sources and bringing more services to kids throughout our community more efficiently.
The Best Point team brings evidence- based education and behavioral health services to:
The results speak for themselves:
Would you like to support Best Point? Donations are always needed. For more information, visit bestpoint.org or call 513-272-2800.