A Chat with Anchor Perinatal Wellness
Tell us about Anchor Perinatal Wellness.
Anchor Perinatal Wellness is a perinatal mental health center based out of Raleigh, North Carolina that serves the needs of perinatal people across North Carolina and beyond. Through our free screening clinic, our outpatient therapy program, and our intensive outpatient programs, we offer comprehensive and inclusive services that address the unique and varied mental health needs of pregnant and postpartum people. At Anchor, we help perinatal people with depression, anxiety, trauma, intrusive thoughts, suicidal ideation, parental identity, attachment, guilt, post-hospitalization mania and psychosis, and more. Our services can be in-person or virtual. Data from our first year shows that our IOP program reduces symptoms of depression by an average of 47% and reduces symptoms of anxiety by an average of 41%.
Why did you want to create an intensive outpatient program (IOP)?
Anchor Perinatal Wellness is the brainchild of three perinatal clinicians/moms. Having worked in the community for many years, we had each seen and felt the gap in services between traditional outpatient therapy and inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. Many perinatal people would benefit from more than once-a-week therapy, but do not meet the criteria for inpatient hospitalization (or may be stepping down from an inpatient setting). This is where an IOP shines. Through three mornings a week of group therapy over the course of 1 to 3 months, people get a major infusion of skills, support, processing, and community, which fast-tracks their stabilization and relief.
What were the challenges faced when creating this program?
Despite all being prior business owners, opening a perinatal mental health facility was an intense labor of love, as we had to push through numerous challenges to birth this program (puns intended). Curriculum development, policies and procedures, funding, state licensure, CARF accreditation, insurance credentialing, community awareness, and networking with other components in our state’s system of care all required effortful (and often new) skills and work streams. Because the program is constantly growing and evolving, many of these tasks continue after our first year.
A major challenge for us and for the people we serve is the stigma around people psychologically struggling as they navigate pregnancy and postpartum. Society tells parents to be “grateful” and to “enjoy every second” of parenthood while ignoring the inherent psychosocial stressors, identity conflict, hormonal changes, and physical demands. This means that too many people are struggling in silence, not knowing that their level of mood struggles can be improved so they can be more present, joyful, and resilient as they navigate parenting. Our program is a resource for people to become the people and parents they want to be.
Are you connected with other IOPs?
As we embarked on the journey of creating Anchor, we reached out to fellow perinatal higher-level-of-care programs (IOPs, PHPs, and inpatient programs) to introduce ourselves and to learn from their experiences of serving perinatal people. We heard time and time again how isolated each program was in their work. In response, we started a Perinatal Higher Level of Care Collaborative that meets monthly. Members of the collaborative are founders, leaders, and therapists in programs across the country serving the mental health needs of perinatal people. It is a place to share successes and challenges, seek advice, have case consultation, and provide overall support to one another. Through our collaborative, we hope higher level of care providers feel more connected and supported, which will prevent burnout, improve advocacy efforts for issues affecting families, and hopefully the creation of more perinatal programs across the country.
Where can people learn more about your program?
We strive to be accessible to providers and help-seekers alike. We are accessible online via our website, www.anchorperinatal.
Veronica Kemeny, LCSW, PMH-C; Director of Operations at Anchor Perinatal Wellness Veronica is a licensed clinical social worker who received her Master’s of Social Work from New York University. She is originally from New England, moved to Raleigh in 2015, and is thrilled to call North Carolina home. She is bilingual in Spanish and, as a first generation American, is especially attuned to cultural identity and how it impacts the adjustment to parenthood. Veronica is passionate about how our family and life experiences impact our journeys into becoming parents. In her clinical work, she integrates numerous approaches including mindfulness, cognitive approaches like CBT and ACT as well as somatic-based approaches like Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Brainspotting.
Roxanne Rosenberg, LCMHC, PMH-C; Clinical Director at Anchor Perinatal Wellness Roxanne is a licensed clinical mental health counselor (LCMHC) with a certification in perinatal mental health (PMH-C). She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with honors from Yale University and her master’s degree in psychology from Duke University. Roxanne has been supporting pregnant and postpartum people for over 15 years through individual psychotherapy, support groups, birth doula work, and advocacy work. Roxanne has also chaired the North Carolina chapter of Postpartum Support International since 2018. Roxanne has provided trainings across the country in perinatal mental health and women’s trauma.
Doing It All For My Baby: A Multidisciplinary Exploration of Contemporary Fatherhood
PSI Conference Breakout Session with Dr. Daniel Singley, PhD
Tell us about your session at the 2023 PSI conference.
The title of our presentation is, Doing It All for My Baby: A Multidisciplinary Exploration of Contemporary Fatherhood, and I’ll be part of a panel presentation with my research co-investigators Drs. Brian Cole and Sonia Molloy. I’m excited to present our research team’s findings in ways that will further our understanding of the multidimensionality of how fathers interact with their babies along with a more nuanced look at fathers’ psychosocial transition to early parenthood. We take an intersectional frame in our methodology and interpretations, so will be touching on systemic factors, strengths-based approaches to fatherhood, cutting edge feminist theory in fatherhood, as well as clinical application in working with fathers and their families.
Who is the target audience for your session?
Because male-identified parents tend to get very little attention in the field of perinatal parental mental health, I believe that our talk will have something for everyone including parents/help-seekers as well as seasoned researchers and clinicians who simply aren’t accustomed to really factoring in fathers in their work.
How will people benefit from attending your session?
Taking part in this presentation should be informative, useful, and fun! We put a premium on having interaction and lively Q&A with an emphasis on practical application. So attendees will likely learn a lot about fathers’ involvement with their infants as well as how to include fathers in more fully in the work they do, be it research, administration, clinical work, lactation consultancy, doulas, etc.
Dr. Singley, Ph.D., ABPP, is a San Diego-based board-certified psychologist and Director of The Center for Men’s Excellence. His research and practice focus on men’s mental health with a particular emphasis on reproductive psychology and the transition to fatherhood. Dr. Singley won the American Psychological Association’s 2017 Practitioner of the Year Award from the Division on Men & Masculinities. He is Past President of the APA’s Section on Positive Psychology and is currently the President-Elect of the APA’s Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinities and the President’s Advisory Council for Postpartum Support International. He conducts trainings and presentations around the country to assist individuals and organizations to enhance their level of father inclusiveness and founded the grant-funded Basic Training for New Dads, Inc nonprofit and Padre Cadre social networking application just for dads in order to give new fathers the tools they need to be highly engaged with their infants as well as their partners. In his free time, Dr. Singley likes to cook, surf, read, and trick his two teenage sons into activities so they can’t escape his annoying shrinky questions. Follow him @MenExcel and www.facebook.com/MenExcel/
Get to Know the PSI Advisory Council
In the swirl of Postpartum Support International’s various activities, one group of volunteers works behind the scenes: the Advisory Council. You may not have heard of it, but you may recognize some of its 20 individual members. Formerly known as the President’s Advisory Council, it was meant as a way for past presidents and other luminaries to have continued involvement in the organization. It continues to serve as a referral source of talent for the Board Chair and Executive Director Wendy Davis. This group is a tribute to the value of volunteerism.
Volunteerism is about standing up and getting involved. What’s truly rewarding is watching the fruit of our labor seed and blossom into all sorts of remarkable and sometimes surprising avenues. As Advisory Council Chair, I’ve had the privilege of being a non-voting attendee of the PSI Board meetings. One of the major thrusts during the Chair tenures of Ann Smith and Chris Raines and now, currently, Katayune Kaeni, is strategic planning. Since its inception, the Advisory Council has always expressed the importance of data-driven programming. The 2022 Impact Report and 2020-2023 Strategic Plan released by Wendy Davis and her team show a clear snapshot of PSI’s direction. Through its regular meetings held throughout the year, the Advisory Council’s brainstorming sessions offer valuable creative ideas and suggestions facilitating further programming development in the areas of professional education and trainings, support groups, diversity, equity and inclusion, advocacy, development, marketing, psychiatric consultation and forensics.
Amongst our luminaries, first and foremost, is PSI’s founder, Jane Honikman. The Advisory Council is comprised of six former PSI presidents, four former Depression After Delivery board members including two presidents (one of whom, Ann Smith, was a president for both organizations), nine PSI board members, two internationally renowned researchers in PMADs, two chapter founders, one founder of an intensive outpatient program, and several who have dealt directly with postpartum psychosis and loss. All are involved in education and training in multiple university, hospital, and mental health or community settings. The majority are mental health professionals and several are lay people. Our bios are available at www.postpartum.net.
Meet the Advisory Council
Essentially, we all participate in promoting PSI’s mission. Despite being primarily senior status, we’re all still working as well as raising families—many of which include several generations. Jane Honikman’s latest book, Postpartum is Forever: Social Support from Conception through Grandparenthood points out the utility of grandparents acting as a social vital support to the younger generations (and in my case, as a brand-new great-grandparent)! All of us educate, donate, and volunteer in numerous ways to families dealing with perinatal mood and anxiety distress and psychotic disorders.
Some of our activities include: speak for the bi-yearly Advisory Council Webinar Series which can be found on the PSI website; attend and present at the annual conference, help initiate new programs and work on board committees along with the board and staff. This is a group with prolific authors having written and appeared in books on PMADs. Others have written articles for the public and others for professional audiences. We’ve appeared on TV or social media as advocates for mental health, social supports, or forensics related to antepartum and perinatal mental wellness. Several are expert witnesses in numerous postpartum psychosis cases, or participating on the state legislative level to address inequities in the justice system, and our one lawyer, George Parnham, defended Andrea Yates and, with his wife and current board member, Mary, formed the Yates Children Memorial Fund (now known as the PSI Legal Justice Committee).
Subsequent to our impressive Impact Report release, the Advisory Council weighed with their own wish list for PSI’s continued endeavors and future success. The group has ideas that I’m eager to share with you. They fall into 5 categories:
Advocacy. First, to work across broad political spectrums of local, state, and congressional governments to change laws regarding postpartum psychosis so those who commit filicide will not be subject to outdated insanity standards and incarcerated rather than evaluated by fairer criteria occurring at the time of the event. Second, to establish a robust legal/forensic expert team certificate program, similar to the upcoming soon-to-be inaugurated by Advisory Chair Member, Daniel Singley, Foundations in Paternal Perinatal Mental Health Advanced Training. Third, offering defense attorneys, prosecutors, forensic experts, and law enforcement personnel knowledge of the details of postpartum psychosis to clear up myths, offer a deeper understanding of those involved in the criminal justice system, and decrease stigma to help ensure fairer justice for those in a postpartum state who harm their children.
Awareness. This includes increasing PSI’s visibility nationwide. The goal is to further exposure and to reinforce that PSI is the premier leader in PMAD trainings, education of professionals, and community resources. Running the 24/7 HRSA Hotline is another one of the programs which reinforce our expertise to help families in need of assistance—day or night. Being able to supply the best practices and information to multiple generations, the LBGTQ+, BIPOC, military, and underserved communities through a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens.
Research. Not just using best practices, research, and data but designing, in collaboration with our university and hospital-based professionals, well-designed research to examine some of the existing and thorny issues in PMADs and postpartum psychosis so we expand our profile as a premier leader in the research arena.
Community support. PSI’s mission has always included reaching out to communities with resources of various types—our support groups are robust and numerous with varied subjects and specific topics. We still face challenges reaching military moms and the underserved in urban and rural communities. Our goal is to improve the lives of these people—regardless of where they live or race, creed, or sexual orientation.
Innovation. On our wish list is the creation of an app. With the use of more sophisticated technology, we can create a user-friendly app so even the sleep-deprived, foggy-brained new parent can utilize it to increase their access to resources. We’ve grown from just a phone line to a website, text, and social media platform. Now, we need to expand again.
Time, treasure, and talent are what we offer. We are a dedicated group of volunteers who take pleasure in watching Postpartum Support International grow and thrive as it deals with challenges facing parental mental health issues and birth equity as an inherent right for all people. We bring our expertise and passion to the table when asked and where it is needed. Speaking for the entire Advisory Council, it has been a privilege to serve as Chair of this esteemed group and as a part of PSI’s past, present, and future!
Linda was Membership Chair and Secretary of the PSI Board from 2007-2012 when she became chair of PSI’s President’s Advisory Council. She is a facilitator for PSI’s Chat with an Expert. She has been on the PPD Taskforce of the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey and was a founding member of The North American Menopause Society. Dr. Klempner has written, spoken and appeared on television on reproductive health issues. She received the Star of Resolve Award for service to those suffering from infertility in 1999. She began Women’s Health Counseling & Psychotherapy in Teaneck, N.J. and has been a clinical psychologist in private practice for over thirty years.
Addressing Racial Disparity in Maternal and Infant Health
PSI Conference Breakout Session with LeJeune Johnson, LCSW
Tell us about your session at the 2023 PSI conference.
The presentation will offer participants a sobering look at the maternal mortality crisis impacting families and communities from a national and regional perspective. Specifically, we will take an intimate look at quantitative data that paints a grim picture for maternal and infant health outcomes for Black women and their babies. Additionally, through a cultural lens we will visit a timeline overview regarding the history of reproductive injustices Black women have faced in the United States, that continue to contribute to adverse birthing experiences and outcomes today. Maternal morbidity and mortality extend far beyond the mother and have a generational impact that have devasting consequences for the surviving families left behind. One maternal death can completely change the trajectory of a family and community. One maternal death is too many, especially when most maternal deaths are preventable.
Who is the target audience for your session?
This session is great for anyone that have desires to enhance their cultural competence surrounding barriers and challenges in maternal healthcare systems.
How will people benefit from attending your session?
Attendees will gain a better sense of awareness regarding the significance and prevalence of the racial disparities that exist in maternal health outcomes. Through increased self-awareness, attendees will be able to identify and confront their own implicit biases and feel better equipped to navigate spaces where they can confidently address social issues and policies that lead to health inequity.
LeJeune Johnson is the founder and CEO of Therapy Plus, LLC. Since 2014, Therapy Plus has provided therapy-based services to the children and families of Mississippi. Trained as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Mrs. Johnson has a professional and academic background heavily invested in the mental health field. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Mississippi State University and later received a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Jackson State University. Mrs. Johnson’s passion for working with trauma survivors led her to obtain a Trauma Informed Care Post-Graduate Certificate from Mississippi College. Currently, Mrs. Johnson is nearing completion of Perinatal Mental Health Certification from Postpartum Support International (PSI).
As she strives to bring about impactful change, LeJeune Johnson has worked with several public health agencies on solution-focused projects to help address health inequities and improve maternal and infant health outcomes. Her professional background includes work with the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the Mississippi State Department of Health, and the Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services. Mrs. Johnson shares, “I opened Therapy Plus in 2014 with the vision to prioritize providing services to communities that have traditionally lacked access to wellness and mental health services. At Therapy Plus, we have an equity-focused agenda that is driven to invest in vulnerable and under-resourced populations.”
When she is not in the office, Mrs. Johnson enjoys spending time with her husband of nine years and their two children. She shares that some of her favorite self-care activities are running, weightlifting, and window shopping.