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Caring for Body and Mind

Delane-CasianoThe American Psychological Association estimates that 9 to 16 percent of post-partum women experience depression. Without proper care, this mental health issue can cause many problems for both the mother and her entire family. 

Although this condition –- and other mental health and mood disorders -- are common, stigma and other factors stop many of these mothers from receiving the help they need. The Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness (PCWBW) in Psychiatry is working to change that, with help from a Penn Medicine CAREs grant.

“We see women across the reproductive life cycle with behavioral health problems, including depression, anxiety, mood disorders such as post-partum depression, mood changes during menopause, and more,” said Penn psychiatrist Delane Casiano, MD, director of the Maternal Wellness Initiative (MWI), a division of PCWBW that offers integrated behavioral health and Ob/Gyn services at HUP’s Helen O. Dickens Center. Casiano works with Liisa Hantsoo, PhD, postdoctoral fellow.

“Many women see their Ob/Gyn providers routinely, and by offering co-located mental health services, we're hoping to reach more women who could benefit,” said Hantsoo, who provides cognitive behavioral therapy treatments for depression, relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, supportive psychotherapy, and other services.  For example, if a pregnant woman comes in, is seen by a nurse practitioner or obstetrician, and becomes tearful during a visit, saying she has a lot of stress, the patient will be referred to the social worker. The social worker completes a behavioral health screen, then sends the patient to the MWI. Significant collaboration at all stages helps ensure comprehensive care for all patients.         

The CAREs grant will help promote those services and help more women through the MWI patient education division. Casiano and Hantsoo also anticipate hosting a series of classes as well, such as a support group for fathers, depression, stress during pregnancy, etc.

On-site services began July 2012. “We’re thriving, and we’re growing,” said Casiano.

Photo above: Delane Casiano, MD


Are you involved in a community outreach activity?  If so, it may be eligible to receive a Penn Medicine CAREs grant. Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted until Friday, March 1.  For more information or to apply, please go to and click on ‘Foundation Grant.’

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