BILLINGS - May is "Maternal Mental Health" month, which is a perfect time for the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to announce their partnership with Frontier Psychiatry for a new hotline that will help expand patient care for mothers in the perinatal period.

The new consultation line is called PRISM for Moms. It stands for Psychiatric Referrals, Intervention and Support in Montana. Essentially, it helps mothers struggling through perinatal mood disorders access mental health care quicker.

The perinatal period is defined as the period during pregnancy and about a year after giving birth.

Dr. Eric Arzubi, CEO of Frontier Psychiatry, says this phase is when new mothers are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems.

The hotline began because the department saw a need to reach residents, especially those in rural Montana, struggling with mental health disorders.

Here's how the hotline works: when a mother shares that she's struggling mentally with her provider, the doctor will call the hotline and be connected with resources for their patient. 

Christie Weseman, a certified midwife at FamilyBorn clinic in Kalispell, was apart of the pilot program for PRISM. She says women tend to feel more comfortable sharing information with a clinician or midwife they've already been working with.

“For a patient to be able to share something really vulnerable and really hard with someone that they know well is really lovely. And for us to then be able to access quality, timely, psychiatric care to get the ball rolling,” Weseman said.

Weseman says it usually can take months to help a patient get psychiatric care, but she saw firsthand how the hotline was able to help her patient in postpartum showing signs of hypomania.

“To be able to call this line and talk to Dr. Arzubi about what I’m seeing and my concerns are and to help this woman in a timely manner before it gets harder than it needs to be for her was amazing,” she said.

The line is to be used by clinicians, not the patients themselves.

The line is open 24/7, but any requests called in after 4 p.m. or on weekends will receive a call back from a Frontier psychologist the next business day.

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