In spring of 2023, we hosted an online listening survey to gather feedback from people in Southern Oregon of reproductive age, in an effort to help local health organizations better understand needs and design programs to support families.
It was sent to our community partners, Healthy Start Community Workers, and through social media. In total, we received 43 responses — the majority of them from women in the 25-34 age category, from Grants Pass, Roseburg and surrounding rural communities.
They had a lot to say about maternal mental health! When asked which resources they’re currently using for self care, the top services were therapy, counseling and prescriptions. Over 75% of respondents reported feeling overwhelmed for several days straight in the past six months.
And when it comes to what respondents wanted and needed more of to improve self care, the answer was resounding: more mental health services. Namely, support groups, family therapy and childcare services were written-in responses when asked what support people needed to improve their mental health.
Additionally, barriers to accessing services included childcare, cost, appointment times, and a lack of group therapy offerings.
The data collected from this survey is in-line with national trends around maternal mental health care. The Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health rates each state on providers and programs, screenings and insurance coverage. Only one state in the U.S. received a “B-” rating (the highest given), with most receiving “D” and “F” grades. Oregon received a “D+” overall.
So where does this leave our Southern Oregon communities? Health care organizations and community leaders have several big-picture questions to tackle:
“How do we offer more perinatal (before, during and after pregnancy) support groups?”
“How do we improve the quality of mental health care?”
“How do we provide childcare during moms’ counseling sessions?”
Healthy Start of Southern Oregon convenes the Perinatal Task Force as part of a collective effort to get local health care professionals and service providers on-board with the services and support that rural residents are asking for. Every community is unique in its needs, and the findings from our 2023 Community Listening Survey will be used to generate discussion and action within the Task Force around comprehensive support for Southern Oregon families.
If you’re interested in joining the Perinatal Task Force or lending your voice to these survey findings, we invite you to learn more, and RSVP for one of our upcoming Douglas County or Josephine County virtual meetings.