Warm Connections: Integration of Infant Mental Health Services into WIC

Community Ment Health J. 2021 Aug;57(6):1130-1141. doi: 10.1007/s10597-020-00744-y. Epub 2020 Nov 7.


Low-income women experience disproportionately high rates of adverse maternal mental health outcomes, such as pregnancy-related depression, and have less access to behavioral health support. Adverse maternal mental health affects children through compromising bonding, impeding early childhood development, and increasing risks of child maltreatment. Integrated behavioral health approaches can improve access to behavioral health services by locating services in community-based settings routinely accessed by low-income families. Warm Connections is an innovative integrated behavioral health program delivered in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and rooted in an infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) framework. This exploratory study describes Warm Connections and provides evaluation results from its pilot implementation. Findings suggest Warm Connections may reduce distress and increase parenting efficacy among low-income mothers and support further research of this program's feasibility.

Keywords: Infant mental health; Integrated behavioral health; Maternal depression; Maternal mental health; Perinatal mental health; WIC.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Health Services*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Mothers
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy