State policies and programs that address the needs of mentally ill mothers in the public sector

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry; Clinical and Population Health Research; Center for Mental Health Services Research

Publication Date


Document Type



Child; Child, Preschool; Chronic Disease; Female; Health Policy; Health Services Needs and Demand; Hospitalization; Humans; Infant; Infant, Newborn; Maternal Health Services; Medical Indigency; Mental Disorders; Mothers; Parenting; Pregnancy; Public Health Administration; Questionnaires; State Health Plans; United States




OBJECTIVE: The authors sought to determine whether state departments of mental health have specific policies and programs addressing the needs of mentally ill women served in the public sector who have preschool-age children.

METHODS: A questionnaire was sent to the commissioner of mental health for each state and the District of Columbia. Questions addressed whether information was routinely collected on the parenting status of women who receive public-sector psychiatric services, whether services targeting mentally ill women with young children were available, and whether the state had policies concerning hospitalized women who are pregnant or who have young children.

RESULTS: Sixteen states routinely collect data on whether women who receive public-sector services have young children. Four states have residential programs for mentally ill women and their children. About half of the states have programs for assessing parenting skills and outpatient services focused on improving those skills. No state has a policy about visitation between a hospitalized mentally ill mother and her children. Twenty states have policies for the care of hospitalized pregnant patients, primarily for their medical management.

CONCLUSIONS: Further efforts are needed to identify mentally ill women in the public sector who have young children, to enhance the parenting skills of mentally ill patients, and to promote positive outcomes for their children.


Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1993 May;44(5):484-9.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Hospital and community psychiatry

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID