AHRQ Announces New Challenge Competition Focusing on Postpartum Mental Health Care for Rural Families
Press Release Date: May 19, 2020
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) today announced a challenge competition to highlight local innovations to improve postpartum mental health care for rural American families. The total prize pool for the competition is $175,000.
The two-fold purpose of this challenge is to amplify innovative programs that rural communities already are implementing to address challenges to postpartum mental health diagnosis and treatment and elicit new solutions. AHRQ plans to share the information with rural communities, healthcare systems, healthcare professionals, local and state policy makers, federal partners, and the public. Rapid shifts in the healthcare landscape have highlighted the need to create solutions to support community-based, digital, and non-traditional solutions to provide services to mothers experiencing postpartum mental health issues in rural America.
One in seven mothers experiences a postpartum mental health condition, defined as the onset of depression or anxiety within one year of giving birth. Rural women and families face barriers to accessing adequate care for postpartum mental health problems. Such barriers may include limited availability of mental health care providers, and difficulties arranging for child care, transportation, and payment.
“Every year too many women and their families suffer alone. Evidence shows that postpartum mental health problems are underdiagnosed and women in rural areas already face barriers to whole-person care,” said AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna, M.B.A. “With this challenge, AHRQ will shine a light on rural communities that already are expanding care and seek additional innovative solutions to caring for these women and their families.”
The current COVID-19 pandemic, with its disruption of traditional employment and social supports, highlights the need for new solutions to a longstanding problem. Prior research suggests that higher levels of stressors during pregnancy and the delivery period are associated with greater prevalence of postpartum depression.
Through this new challenge, AHRQ is interested both in success stories that highlight community achievements and new program proposals that demonstrate innovative planning for community action to improve postpartum mental health. Organizations that serve rural communities, including health care providers, community-based organizations and clubs, faith-based groups, cooperative extension services, schools, hospitals, local health departments, and state, territorial, and tribal organizations are eligible to submit proposals that highlight successful or promising programmatic interventions to improve rural postpartum mental health.
AHRQ is hosting this challenge during Women’s Health Month as a single-phase competition with two categories: success stories and proposals. Applicants may only submit proposals in one category. Submissions are due in September, and AHRQ plans to announce challenge winners in the fall.
There will be five winners in the Success Story Category, with each receiving $15,000.
There will be two winners in the Program Proposal Category, with each receiving $50,000.
For more information, visit the AHRQ Cross-Sectional Innovation to Improve Rural Postpartum Mental Health Challenge web page.