Perinatal Mental Health Awareness

Perinatal Mental Health Awareness

In honor of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, Good Beginnings and the Central Vermont Perinatal Mental Health Coalition  are highlighting the experiences of new parents – and anyone caring for an infant – during the pandemic.

As many as 1 in 5 mothers – and 1 in 10 fathers – experience perinatal mood or anxiety challenges during the first year after welcoming a new baby into their family. We are sharing the following stories as part of our work to de-stigmatize perinatal mental health disorders and wrap our collective arms around parents and caregivers. Want to get involved? Contact us at or 802-595-7953 or join us at the Climb Out of the Darkness in June!  

Katy Leffel, the Maternal Child Health Nurse Supervisor at Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice, works with a team of nurses who visit expectant and new parents in the home.  For her, the pandemic highlighted the need to support all families with babies, and to bring that support directly to them in the home.

Jennifer Auletta is a behavioral health clinician at the UVM Health Network- CVMC and the Community Health Team’s Women’s Health Initiative working out of the Women’s Health Center. For her, the pandemic underscored the need for more community supports for families – but also helped us, as a community, talk more openly about mental and emotional health.

Naomi Alfini is the Director of the Children’s Room in Waterbury. During the pandemic, she heard from many families for whom the prenatal care and hospital experience was especially isolating. She’s glad to see more parents speaking up about their experiences with anxiety and seeking out support from a therapist – and she wants to see stronger systems in place  to support birthing parents and their partners.

Dr. Colleen Horan is an obstetrician/gynecologist and Medical Director of Women’s Health at the UVM Health Network. For her, a silver lining of the pandemic is that mental health is now an integral part of patient care at WACU.  She wants community members to remember to ask new parents “How are YOU doing?” and to get vaccinated so that you can safely visit and support new parents in your community!

Kathryn Wolfe is a mental health clinician and the STAMPP Program Administrator for the State of Vermont. This five-year, federally funded program strengthens the system of support available to Vermont families with perinatal mental health needs in several important ways.


Maria Rossi is a doula and childbirth educator who coordinates the Doula Project at Washington County Mental Health Services. She reflects on the isolation of the pandemic, and the ways in which other factors – such as financial stressors or racism – also affect the birth and postpartum experience.

Cara found out during her pregnancy that her baby would need medical attention and surgery after birth. She shares her story about the isolation of her experience – and what she did to create a virtual community of support.

Christine Flynn, Brewery Representative at the Alchemist, talks about how important the Postpartum Angel Program is for families and communities, and why her employer of nine years is proud to sponsor Good Beginnings.

Jocelyn was in her third trimester when the pandemic hit.  She shares her experience from the past year, juggling work and parenthood as a new parent unexpectedly without a ‘village.’

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