Date of Graduation

Summer 8-18-2022

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Nursing and Health Professions

First Advisor

Dr. Kelly McDermott


The term perinatal individual refers to women and other individuals who are pregnant or who have been pregnant within the last 12 months. Every year, in the United States there are 700 pregnancy-related deaths and 10% are due to mental health causes including death by suicide. Mental health conditions including but not limited to anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder affect one in five perinatal individuals throughout the United States. This increases perinatal morbidity, hospitalization costs, and economic burden nationwide.

After 43 days postpartum, mental health conditions are the second leading cause of death. The United States lacks a standard of care for the treatment and linkage to perinatal mental health services. The evidence of this shortcoming is visible in the rising perinatal mortality rate in the United States. Research on causes and potential interventions for reducing pregnancy-related mental health deaths have been conducted and yield recommendations for improving screening, access to care, and education on perinatal mental health for both the provider and perinatal individual.

While legislation varies by state, this paper recommends a standard for the United States to ensure a perinatal individual’s life expectancy is not contingent on their location, and instead equitable opportunities for screening, treatment, and education are available in all states.