April 11, 2024

Finding Strength in Community: How a Recent Grant is Supporting Perinatal Mental Health

With support from St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation’s Patient Comfort and Kindness Fund, a new peer support group gives moms a safe space to share their experiences of living with perinatal mental health concerns.

Motherhood is a journey filled with many ups and downs, joys and challenges. For some new moms, the transition from pregnancy to early parenthood can also bring significant changes in mood and anxiety.

St. Joe’s Women’s Health Concerns Clinic (WHCC) is an outpatient service specializing in the perinatal, postpartum, and hormonal mental health concerns of women throughout their lifespan.

Last spring, the WHCC started an outdoor fitness group for new moms and their babies. Thanks to a recent $5,000 Patient Comfort and Kindness Grant, the WHCC has been able to expand this program and create a supportive community for moms that have experienced postpartum mental health challenges including depression and anxiety.

A portion of the WHCC grant was used to rent an accessible indoor space to continue offering this peer support group year-round. The funds also enabled the clinic to purchase fitness equipment, such as dumbbells and exercise mats, along with baby toys for the little ones to play with. After each session, our care team provides a snack and warm cup of tea, allowing the moms to sit and socialize together.

“Pregnancy and parental leave can be an isolating time for new parents. By offering community peer support and exercise groups, our clients are able to make new connections and benefit from sharing in one another’s experience,” says Kristin VanHoeve, WHCC Registered Nurse.

“Exercise is a vital component of mental health treatment, but what we didn’t anticipate was how powerful and supportive the mom-peer connection would be for our group members,” adds Allison Henderson, WHCC Occupational Therapist. “It has been wonderful to hear such positive feedback from participants, and we are very grateful to the Foundation and its donors for providing this grant to support the well-being of our clients and their little ones.”

Today, the group has grown to nearly 20 moms and their babies. Each week, clients keep coming back in the cold, rain and (a little bit of) snow to gather in this warm and welcoming space made possible thanks to the Foundation’s Patient Comfort and Kindness Fund.

Every summer, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation invites Hospital staff – on behalf of their units, departments, and patients – to submit applications for a grant of up to $5,000 to help cover the costs of items or initiatives like this one that are not eligible for government funding, but are essential to improving the care patients receive at St. Joe’s. The grants are made possible through generous donations made by our community of donors and friends, and Hospital staff members, too. In fact, over the last three years, an anonymous donor known as The Ever Hopeful Fund has gifted a total of $350,000 to help our Foundation grant as many requests as possible. To help bring comfort to St. Joe’s patients, make a gift today by joining our Patient Comfort and Kindness Club. 

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