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S24-704 Behavioral Health and Birthing Folks: Mental Health Screening in Perinatal and Neonatal Medical Settings

Total Credits: 3 including 3 Category I CE

200 Adults, Couples & Families
Dr. LaTrice L. Dowtin, Ph.D., LCPC, NCSP, RPT-S
Course Levels:
3 Hours 15 Minutes
Target Audience:
Social Workers, LCPCs, and Psychologists



Very often when families learn that the newest member of their family needs time in the NICU, panic strikes. Research shows that infant medical severity has no influence over family mental health during a NICU stay or complicated pregnancy, labor, and/or delivery. That means whether an infant simply needs more time to grow and feed in the NICU or extra monitoring, or if the birthing person has a high-risk pregnancy, family members may experience diagnosable conditions, such as acute stress disorder, anxiety (or postpartum anxiety), major depressive disorder, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to their infant’s hospitalization or the birthing person’s condition leading up to and following birth. These diagnoses have been shown to negatively impact infant outcomes resulting in longer NICU stays, limited skin-to-skin contact, even later developmental delays, and parenting challenges. In this session, attendees will improve their ability to accurately refer families for behavioral health services. Parental mental health, infant–parent bonding, and developmental care practices will be discussed so that you can help families gain positive health outcomes during their time in perinatal and neonatal medical settings. Racial, cultural, and linguistic considerations will be reviewed.   


Dr. LaTrice L. Dowtin, Ph.D., LCPC, NCSP, RPT-S Related Seminars and Products

Dr. LaTrice L. Dowtin is a Black cisgender woman who believes in the ongoing pursuit of humility and social justice. She is a licensed clinical psychologist, licensed clinical professional counselor, nationally certified school psychologist, and Registered Play Therapist-SupervisorTM, who specializes in perinatal and infant mental health (IMH) and trauma populations with a special focus on culturally, racially, and linguistically marginalized people of the global majority. Dr. Dowtin is a native African American Vernacular English speaker, fluent in U.S. English, and is proficient in American Sign Language.   

Over the course of the past 19 years, she has carved out a career as an early childhood specialist in the area of social–emotional development for young children and families. She has held such positions as preschool teacher; infant care specialist; Center Director of an early care program; early childhood mental health consultant; early childhood trauma and family therapist; adjunct faculty in an early childhood teacher education program; Deaf infant–parent support group facilitator; school psychologist; therapist; and invited presenter at University of California San Francisco, Bowie State University, and Cornell University.   

Dr. Dowtin was educated at Bowie State University (BSU), which is Maryland's oldest Historically Black University, where the focus of the intersection of race, culture, and identity is deeply embedded throughout the curriculum. Following school psychology and counselor training at BSU, Dr. Dowtin continued learning clinical psychology at Gallaudet University where she had the opportunity to train at Children’s National in their child development clinic conducting consultations in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and neonatal follow-up assessments for a predominantly Black community. Dr. Dowtin's additional training at the Lourie Center for Children's Social Emotional Wellness afforded her the opportunity to support children and families with severe trauma backgrounds while working with children and families at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore City, Maryland. She then completed a clinical psychology doctoral internship at Tulane University School of Medicine with a focus on families and infant mental health for trauma survivors in the city of New Orleans. Following her internship, Dr. Dowtin completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University in the NICU focusing on perinatal and infant mental health.   

Agenda & Learning Objectives


  • Presenter Introductions - 5 minutes  

  • What is Behavioral Health in Perinatal & Infant Medical Settings? - 30 minutes  

    • Define behavioral health in medical settings (e.g., NICU, Maternity, OBGYN)  

    • Roles of psychology/counseling vs social work in many US hospital systems  

    • Brief introduction into infant mental health  

  • What is the Impact of Behavioral Health in Perinatal and Infant Medical Settings? - 30 minutes  

    • Discuss infant outcomes  

  • Examine infant-parent relational bonding in the NICU  

  • Break - 15 minutes  

  • What Are Perinatal Mental Health Disorders (PMADS)? - 30 minutes  

    • Review common PMADs  

  • When to refer to Behavioral Health in Perinatal and Infant Medical Settings? 30 - minutes  

    • Explore common diagnostic outcomes for NICU families  

    • Examine signs of significant parental distress  

    • Brief review of select screening tools  

  • What Interventions Are There? - 30 minutes  

    • Review common interventions  

    • Birthing person  

    • Infant-parent interventions  

  • Conclusions - 25 minutes  

    • Clinical Discussion questions  

    • General Q & A and discussion 



Upon the completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Define behavioral health in perinatal and neonatal settings.   

  • Recognize common assessment tools for screening in perinatal and neonatal family mental health.   

  • Identify two cultural considerations when referring patients and families for behavioral and mental health consults in perinatal and neonatal settings.   

  • Recall three ways that medical practitioners can support infant–parent bonding in the NICU.   

Bibliography & References


Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (2020). ACGME program requirements for graduate medical education in neonatal-perinatal medicine.    


Ahqvist-Björkroth, S., Axelin, A., Korja, R., & Lehtonen, L. (2019). An educational intervention for NICU staff decreased maternal postpartum depression. Pediatric research, 85(7), 982-986.   


Ahlqvist-Björkroth, S., Boukydis, Z., Axelin, A. M., & Lehtonen, L. (2017). Close collaboration with parentsTM intervention to improve parents’ psychological well-being and child development: description of the intervention and study protocol. Behavioural Brain Research, 325, 303-310.   


Brignoni-Pérez, E., Scala, M., Marchman, V., Feldman, H.M., and Travis, K.E. (October, 2020). Disparities in Kangaroo Care for premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. Annual Meeting of Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Virtual.  


Brignoni-Pérez, E., Scala, M., Feldman, H. M., Marchman, V. A., & Travis, K. E. (2022). Disparities in kangaroo care for premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 43(5), e304-e311.  


Cella, D., Lai, J. S., Nowinski, C. J., Victorson, D., Peterman, A., Miller, D., Bethoux, F., Heinemann, A., Rubin, S., Cavazos, J. E., Reder, A. T., Sufit, R., Simuni, T., Holmes, G. L., Siderowf, A., Wojna, V., Bode, R., McKinney, N., Podrabsky, T., Wortman, K., ... Moy, C. (2012). Neuro-QOL: brief measures of health-related quality of life for clinical research in neurology. Neurology, 78(23), 1860–1867.   


Cox, J. L., Holden, J. M., & Sagovsky, R. (1987). Detection of postnatal depression: Development of the 10-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. British Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 782-786.  


Dempsey, A. G., Cole, J. C., & Saxton, S. N. (2022). Behavioral Health services with high-risk infants and families: Meeting the needs of patients, families, and providers in fetal, neonatal intensive care unit, and neonatal follow-up settings. Oxford University Press.  


Dowtin, L. L., Willis, T., Givrad, S., & Scala, M. (2022, August). Teaching and training developing professionals in perinatal and neonatal settings. In Behavioral health services with high-risk infants and families: meeting the needs of patients, families, and providers in fetal, neonatal intensive care unit, and neonatal follow-up settings (p. 82). Oxford University Press.  


Hall, S. L., Cross, J., Selix, N. W., Patterson, C., Segre, L., Chuffo-Siewert, R., ... & Martin, M. L. (2015). Recommendations for enhancing psychosocial support of NICU parents through staff education and support. Journal of Perinatology, 35(1), S29-S36.   


Horwitz, S. M., Storfer-Isser, A., Kerker, B. D., Szilagyi, M., Garner, A., O'Connor, K. G., ... & Stein, R. E. (2015). Barriers to the identification and management of psychosocial problems: changes from 2004 to 2013. Academic Pediatrics, 15(6), 613-620.   

Kroenke, K. & Spitzer, R.L. (2002). The PHQ-9: A new depression and diagnostic severity measure. Psychiatric Annals, 32, 509-521.  


Lin, L., Stamm, K., & Christidis, P. (2018, February). How diverse is the psychology workforce? Monitor on Psychology, 49(2).   


McMillan, J. A., Land, M., & Leslie, L. K. (2017). Pediatric residency education and the behavioral and mental health crisis: a call to action. Pediatrics, 139(1), e20162141.  


Moreyra, A., Dowtin, L. L., Ocampo, M., Perez, E., Borkovi, T. C., Wharton, E., ... & Shaw, R. J. (2021). Implementing a standardized screening protocol for parental depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Early Human Development, 154, 105279.  


Osborne, L. M., Hermann, A., Burt, V., Driscoll, K., Fitelson, E., Meltzer-Brody, S., ... & National Task Force on Women’s Reproductive Mental Health. (2015). Reproductive psychiatry: the gap between clinical need and education. American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(10), 946-948.   


Pados, B. F., & McGlothen-Bell, K. (2019). Benefits of infant massage for infants and parents in the NICU. Nursing for Women's Health, 23(3), 265-271.   


Pang, E. M., Sey, R., De Beritto, T., Lee, H. C., & Powell, C. M. (2021). Advancing health equity by translating lessons learned from nicu family visitations during the COVID-19 pandemic. NeoReviews, 22(1), e1-e6.   


Postpartum Support International. 

Quinnell, F. A., & Hynan, M. T. (1999). Convergent and discriminant validity of the Perinatal PTSD Questionnaire (PPQ): A preliminary study. Journal of Traumatic  Stress, 12(1), 193–199.  

Saxton, S. N., Dempsey, A. G., Willis, T., Baughcum, A. E., Chavis, L., Hoffman, C., ... & Steinberg, Z. (2019). Essential knowledge and competencies for psychologists working in neonatal intensive care units. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 1-12. doi:   


Scala, M. (2021). Evaluation of a course for neonatal fellows on providing psychosocial support to NICU families. Poster. Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting. May 1-4, 2021  


Shaw, R. J., & Horwitz, S. (Eds.). (2020). Treatment of psychological distress in parents of premature infants: PTSD in the NICU. American Psychiatric Pub. Sigurdson, K., Mitchell, B., Liu, J., Morton, C., Gould, J. B., Lee, H. C., ... & Profit, J. (2019). Racial/ethnic disparities in neonatal intensive care: A systematic review. Pediatrics, 144(2), e20183114.   


Weathers, F.W., Litz, B.T., Keane, T.M., Palmieri, P.A., Marx, B.P., & Schnurr, P.P. (2013). The PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5). Scale available from the National Center for PTSD at   


Course Completion & CE Information

Category I Maryland BSWE Requirement

The Office of Continuing Professional Education at the University Of Maryland School Of Social Work is authorized by the Board of Social Work Examiners in Maryland to sponsor social work continuing education programs. This workshop qualifies for 3 Category I Continuing Education Units. The Office of Continuing Professional Education is also authorized by the Maryland Board of Psychologists and the Maryland Board of Professional Counselors to sponsor Category A continuing professional education.

Please refer to the tab "Live Interactive Webinar Policies & FAQs" for UMSSW Office of CPE policies regarding all live interactive webinar related matters.

Target Audience

Social Workers, LCPCs, and Psychologists

We welcome anyone interested in the topic!


Late Fees and Refunds

The base price is $70 and includes CE credit. A non-refundable late fee of $20 is added on April 26, 2024

Cancellations** must be received 24 hours in advance prior to the workshop to receive a refund or an account credit.

Late fees cannot be refunded or applied to  account credit. 

**ALL cancellations will be subjected to a $35.00 administration fee.**

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The Office of Continuing Professional Education hosts Live Interactive Webinars through two platforms: Zoom and WebEx.

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ADA Accommodations

If you are requesting ADA accommodations, please contact our office via email at least two weeks prior to the workshop date. Requests after that date may not be fulfilled.  

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