Historical Perspectives: Unsilencing Suffering: Promoting Maternal Mental Health in Neonatal Intensive Care Units

Neoreviews. 2020 Nov;21(11):e708-e715. doi: 10.1542/neo.21-11-e708.


Mothers of infants in the NICU suffer higher rates of psychological distress, anxiety, and depression compared with the general population. Often, their mental health concerns remain underidentified and undertreated, which can have deleterious effects on the offspring, both in short-term outcomes while in the NICU as well as long-term neurodevelopmental and behavioral outcomes. In this review, we present an overview of existing empirical evidence about how maternal mental health affects the health of infants, special considerations regarding the mental health needs of NICU mothers, and the findings about existing and developing interventions to address mental health concerns in this vulnerable population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Mental Health*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological* / epidemiology