Addressing caregiver mental health in the neonatal ICU

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Current opinion in pediatrics




PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The neonatal ICU (NICU) setting is a unique opportunity to not only detect major changes in caregiver mental health through universal perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) screening but also intervene with specialized support. We review evidence for addressing caregiver mental health in the NICU, explore current guidelines and models for integrated behavioural health programmes, and describe challenges specific to NICUs, particularly in standalone paediatric hospitals. RECENT FINDINGS: Parents of infants admitted to the NICU are at an increased risk for developing PMADs at rates well above the general postpartum community. Select NICUs within the United States and internationally have recognized the importance of having an embedded psychologist to address caregiver PMADs. However, organizational structures within paediatric healthcare systems are not equipped to manage the logistical, ethical, legal and practical needs of comprehensive caregiver mental health programmes. SUMMARY: To properly address caregiver mental health in NICU settings, clinical and administrative teams must work together to ensure seamless service provision. Systems that facilitate the development of unique parent medical records at the onset of paediatric care are likely to significantly reduce potential liability risks and solve several challenges related to caregiver-focused mental health support in the NICU. VIDEO ABSTRACT:


Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences