In our Maven Insights series, we dive into what our data tells us about our impact and approach, and what we’re learning from how our members interact with Maven. As a data-enabled women’s health and family benefits solution, we’re always thinking about what our members’ engagement tells us about how we can improve.

DID YOU KNOW?

We saw a 257% increase in mental health appointments made by postpartum women on Maven during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women, and especially pregnant and postpartum women, are experiencing more mental health challenges than ever before. In a May NPR interview, one Maven member shared fears about delivery and the support she would have after the birth of her baby. She said she was anxious: “If my baseline is maybe a three or four, I would say I am at a seven or eight consistently.” And she’s not alone: recent studies show that among pregnant women, anxiety, worry, and depression are on the rise.

At Maven, our clinical researchers analyzed virtual appointment data from February through May 2020. They found that demand for mental health appointments rose sharply during that period and has since remained elevated, pointing to the urgent and sustained need for specialized mental health support. The most profound increase in Maven mental health appointments was observed among postpartum women: between February and May 2020, their demand for mental health appointments increased 257%.

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, postpartum depression is characterized by intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, worry, or despair. Many women are unaware that symptoms can persist up to 1 year after having a baby. And while up to 1 in 5 women experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (or PMADs), they are the most underdiagnosed, untreated, and common complication of childbirth—associated with poor overall healthcare outcomes for new mothers and babies, which can drive up healthcare costs.

Here’s what this means for you and your employees.

1. Integrating specialized mental health into a holistic care model is critical to fill gaps in access and treatment for pregnant and postpartum women.

The nature of mental health conditions make seeking treatment difficult—it can be hard to find the energy, strength, or hope to initiate contact with a mental health provider. For these reasons, reducing barriers to care for pregnant and postpartum women is essential to ensuring that the most vulnerable get the support they need.

Trends in virtual mental health appointments on Maven suggest that the demand for maternal mental health care will stay elevated and may rise in the next year, especially as uncertainty around COVID-19 and its risk to pregnant women, children, and families continues to surface.

Having a holistic telehealth solution for physical, behavioral, and mental health needs; a care advocate who provides education, resources, and navigation to high-quality providers; and access to professionals who understand the unique circumstances of the pregnancy and postpartum period, can all reduce barriers to mental health care and help keep your employees healthy.

Maven integrates mental health care within our clinical programs: providers have expertise in the unique issues women with PMADs may experience, and members are able to access tailored mental health content and screenings at critical moments in their journey.

“If my baseline is maybe a three or four, I would say I am at a seven or eight consistently.”

— Maven member on her anxiety level since the onset of COVID-19

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2. Increasing access to mental health care during and after pregnancy can help employees, while dramatically reducing the cost of untreated PMADs.

Untreated PMADs contribute to substantial costs for health plans and employers, and are associated with complications during labor and delivery, and in the postpartum period.

Research suggests that the total estimated cost of untreated PMADs in the U.S. is $14.2 billion. That’s an average of $32,000 for every mother affected but not treated. And most of those costs are carried over to employers and health plans.

3. Improving access to mental health care during pregnancy and postpartum periods can stabilize return-to-work rates and reduce employee attrition in a COVID-19 world.

Mental health-related attrition is costly and prevalent. According to the Harvard Business Review, over 200 million workdays are lost due to mental health conditions every year, which amounts to $16.8 billion in employee productivity. Half of Millennials and 75% of Gen Zers have left jobs in the past because of mental health.

Some of the downstream effects of COVID-19, including disturbed routines, financial insecurity, and social isolation, expose pregnant women to mental health risks more than before. Many of the traditional support systems that pregnant and postpartum women turn to have vanished, making the need for virtual care and access to experts who can fill gaps in support during pregnancy and postpartum all the more important.

To find out more about how Maven can help support your employees with the mental health resources they need, click here.

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