Challenges in Accessing Mental Health Care during Pregnancy and Postpartum in Rural Montana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Postpartum depression is a well-known maternal health care concern. For women using substances or experiencing underlying mental health conditions, incidence of postpartum depression is higher than that of the general population. The purpose of this study was to identify barriers and facilitators associated with seeking mental health care among women with substance use disorder or mental health concerns. Study Design and Methods: Qualitative methods using interviews were conducted via the narrative inquiry approach. Women receiving care at a clinic in rural Montana and reporting substance use or mental health concerns were referred to the research team by the care manager. Participants were at least 18 years of age, English speaking, and pregnant or within 12 months postpartum at time of referral. Results: Twenty-five women met inclusion criteria and were referred for potential study participation. Seven women were interviewed. Four themes on family history, stigmatization, lack of postpartum depression awareness, and isolation were identified. Clinical Implications: Our findings provide a better understanding of barriers and facilitators to seeking mental health care during pregnancy and postpartum among women living in rural areas with mental health concerns or perinatal substance use. An environment where opportunities for women to receive mental health care in a location that is free of stigma and judgment, while understanding the effects of familial trauma and limited or inconsistent social support, is essential to promote optimal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-257
Number of pages6
JournalMCN The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023


  • Depression
  • Perinatal care
  • Postpartum period
  • Rural population
  • Substance-related disorders
  • Montana
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Mental Health
  • Postpartum Period
  • Depression, Postpartum/therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Female
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Qualitative Research


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