Advancing Maternal and Infant Mental Health Research: Adapting and Infusing Evidence Based Practices Into Community Settings
The symposium begins with a study infusing parenting support services into residential substance abuse treatment (Project BRIGHT) where the parenting dyad is therapeutically supported as an augmentation to substance abuse treatment services. This grounded theory study integrates consumer and staff perspectives into the development of a trauma-informed model of intervention and implementation which jointly recognizes and comprehensively responds to substance abuse and parenting support enhancement. The second study focuses on active engagement of fathers into home-based parenting training and support programs through adapting evidence-based models of home visiting to respond to parenting partners of both genders. Qualitative findings from this mixed-methods feasibility study highlight recommended structural changes to service delivery which respond to the needs of fathers, as well as therapeutic father engagement strategies which focus on the co-parenting relationship as an augmentation to the traditional parenting training curriculum. The final study discusses the augmentation of maternal and child health home visiting through the addition of a doula, a birth assistant whose empowering presence maximizes parent involvement and informed choice-making from prenatal care through labor, delivery, and the postpartum as a means to strengthen parental capacity. This qualitative study discusses the feasibility, acceptability, and service coordination findings which emerged from adapting and implementing this holistic and interdisciplinary intervention within home visiting.
Collectively, the studies presented in this symposium highlight several of social work’s contributions to advancing maternal and infant mental health through research partnerships capable of creating sustained, system-oriented change. Across studies, strengthening the family system and building organizational capacity within the community program emerge as essential elements facilitating well-being for parents and infants and insuring successful adaptation and program implementation. This symposium concludes with a discussion linking findings from these studies with other emergent and ongoing research in maternal and infant mental health, and considering additional opportunities for social work researchers to collaborate and create strengths-based opportunities integrating research and practice.