Objective: To explore the mental health needs of parents of infants in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), as well as barriers and solutions to meeting these needs.
Design: Qualitative interviews conducted with parents and staff (n = 15) from a level IV NICU in the Northwestern United States. Thematic analysis completed using an inductive approach, at a semantic level.
Results: (1) Information and mental health needs change over time, (2) Staff-parent relationships buffer trauma and distress, (3) Lack of continuity of care impacts response to mental health concerns, (4) NICU has a critical role in addressing parental mental health.
Conclusion: Mental health support should be embedded and tailored to the NICU trajectory, with special attention to the discharge transition, parents living in rural areas, and non-English-speaking parents. Research should address structural factors that may impact mental health such as integration of wholistic services, language barriers, and staff capacity.
© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.