U of A helpline to support new and expectant moms' mental health

The Arizona Perinatal Psychiatry Access Line will connect providers across the state with specialists. Primary care physicians, OB/GYNs, pediatricians, family medicine doctors, physicians’ assistants and nurses will all have round-the-clock access to experts who can help them diagnose and determine the best next steps of treatment for their patients.

The helpline, free to use, is scheduled to launch June 1 and is funded through a $1.6 million grant from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid system.

It was created by perinatal psychiatrists Dr. Saira Kalia and Dr. Kathryn Emerick, who work as clinicians and professors at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

It’s focusing on perinatal patients but will support women along the entire reproductive health spectrum, from premenstrual to perimenopausal, Kalia said.

There’s a big need for a tool like this in Arizona, where the 915 psychiatrists aren’t enough, she said.

“There are counties in Arizona that have no psychiatrist at all. Our ratio in Arizona is one psychiatrist to 8,000 people,” Kalia said. “There’s this limited pool of psychiatrists and then within that, there are even fewer who are trained in reproductive psychology. That makes it really, really challenging to provide good, evidence-based care, or any care.”

With the launch of the helpline, staffed primarily by Kalia and Emerick, with support from an additional four or five psychiatrists, Arizona will become the 20th state to have this type of consultation line.

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Release Date: 
05/13/2023 - 11:00pm
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