Neurobehavioral Health: Maternal Mental Health Program


Maternal Depression, also known as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), affects 15 to 20% of new mothers. It is the most common complication related to childbirth. Hoag Maternal Mental Health Program’s outpatient clinic was launched in December 2017, as collaboration between the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute and Women’s Health Institute. The Program is an integral part of the comprehensive maternity care and education provided at Hoag Hospital, which is widely recognized for excellence in Obstetrics and Neurobehavioral health.

The Hoag Maternal Mental Health Program is committed to identifying and treating mental health conditions before, during and after pregnancy to ensure healthy outcomes for both mothers and babies. With its focus on four core principlesuniversal screening for maternal depression; linkage to supportive services; early intervention and treatment, and community education, the Program is set to make a significant impact on the wellbeing of mothers and babies in our communities.


This unique Program provides screening services to identify maternal mental health conditions early and offers a variety of treatment options including lifestyle modifications, cognitive behavioral therapy, group psychotherapy and medication management. Under the supervision of a board-certified reproductive psychiatrist, treatments are evidence based and follow recommended guidelines. The shared decisionmaking process carefully considers the known risks of untreated depression and the risks and benefits of treatment. The clinical team works in collaboration with the patient, support person(s) and clinical providers to optimize care.

Some of the services offered by the Hoag Maternal Mental Health Program include:

  • Pre-conception planning (women with existing mental health conditions or who are already taking medications with plans to conceive)
  • Mental health assessment during pregnancy and post-partum
  • Individual and group psychotherapy • Medication Safety Evaluation during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
  • Pharmacogenomics Testing to personalize treatments and achieve better outcomes.
  • Linkage to Supportive services through the Maternal Mental Health Support Line
  • Support Groups and classes

Clinic Information

The Maternal Mental Health outpatient clinic and the Maternal Mental Health Support Line operate Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The clinic is located inside the Hoag for Her Center for Wellness in Newport Beach. With its calm and welcoming surroundings, women feel at ease and removed from the stigma of seeking care for mental health.


The clinical team is led by Sarah Kauffman, M.D. Dr. Kauffman is a Columbia-trained, board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in reproductive and forensic psychiatry. She is originally from San Diego and completed her medical training at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She then completed her general psychiatry residency training, as well as a Women’s Mental Health Fellowship and Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship, at Columbia University in NYC. Dr. Kauffman has authored papers and book chapters related to the intersection of women’s mental health and forensic psychiatry and has been a board member of several mental health organizations. She is also actively involved in advocacy and speaking to the community about reproductive psychiatry and the intersection of mental health and the law. Dr. Kauffman believes in a comprehensive and person-centered approach to women’s mental health including psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, and lifestyle approaches.

The team includes licensed marriage and family therapists and licensed clinical social workers, who are Maternal Mental Health certified through Postpartum Support International.

Patients have access to a range of wellness providers and complementary medicine offerings within the Center for Wellness including Acupuncture, Massage, Pilates, Yoga and Meditation, Guided Imagery, Registered Dietitian, and Certified Fitness Trainer.


Since its launch, the clinic has provided over 800 individual face to face encounters, provided support to over 500 callers and linked over 120 individuals to outside providers and services.

Using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) as a screening tool, the clinic has been able to track outcomes. At three months post treatment, a randomly selected sample of patients have shown significant improvements on the EPDS score. 72% of patients have had 5 points or better improvement on the EPDS score at three months post initial assessment.

Staying true to its mission of providing outreach and education, the clinic team has provided over 10 lectures to community physicians around maternal mental health and caring for pregnant and new moms.

In September 2018, California passed into law important maternal mental health legislation requiring obstetric and primary care physicians to screen patients for depression, requiring hospitals to provide training to all clinical staff who care for pregnant and new moms and requiring the State Department of Health to secure and utilize federal funding to develop maternal mental health programs. Hoag and it Maternal Mental Health clinic have been at the forefront to develop and implement such programs.

To learn more, visit the Maternal Mental Health Program section or call 949-764-8191.