Site Overlay

Hampton VA provides mental health support to pregnant, postpartum Veterans

New mothers often experience mental health issues after childbirth, especially when they don’t have the right support. About one in seven women experience postpartum depression, which involves feeling extreme sadness, anxiety and tiredness for a period of more than two weeks in the year after childbirth. VA mental health providers in Virginia are using telehealth to help new mothers feel less alone.

Dr. Nicole Dutta is a psychology program manager for Women’s Mental Health at VA Hampton Health Care. Dutta oversees the Women’s Behavioral Health Interdisciplinary Program, which offers in-person and virtual perinatal/postpartum mental health services, supporting pregnant and postpartum Veterans.

“We know that the postpartum period is a heightened period of risk for women to develop depression or anxiety. So, if we can intervene early before they’re having significant symptoms, then we can prevent them from going through that,” Dutta shared.

The benefits of virtual services

Hampton VA’s perinatal/postpartum mental health services connect Veterans with a remote VA therapist for individual and group sessions. These services help pregnant and postpartum Veterans address the impact that relationship dynamics and personal identity have on their mental health.

With virtual appointments through VA Video Connect, the program ensures accessibility for all Veterans. Virtual care reduces travel times and increases flexibility for busy schedules which is especially important for new mothers. 

The program’s virtual framework fosters a sense of community and connection among Veterans. It provides a safe space for open communication and shared experiences. 

“Being able to do a video group where it’s all women is so validating. Although it’s not in the room, there’s a lot of emotional connection that happens in the video appointments. Veterans feel like they’re able to get support and they may feel more comfortable speaking to all women,” she said.

Supporting Veterans’ family connections

The Women’s Behavioral Health Interdisciplinary Program offers a wide variety of services to Veterans experiencing challenges during their pregnancy and after.

Dutta said the program’s family-focused services, such as couples therapy and parenting groups, have been the most helpful for Veterans. “When we feel connected, we feel happier.”

A key part of these services is providing Veterans with the tools and skills needed to better connect with their families. Because of certain stressors or traumas, new parents may need additional support that focuses on their mental health or their relationships.

“Women Veterans put the mission first and they do it all while caring for kids, caring for parents who are aging, making sure that their households run smoothly. They are really powering through for a lot of people, so I feel it’s important to give back and support them,” she added.

If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression, help is available. Dial 988 then press 1 to contact the Veterans Crisis Line.

To learn more about telehealth, visit the VA Telehealth Services page.

Welcome to your local American Legion! We will no longer be open for dinner on Mondays and Tuesdays.