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Parental mental health practice starts remote during pandemic

A woman sits cross-legged in a sofa chair. She types on a laptop. A bookshelf is on her left.
The Village COO Kate Ross works from her home on the edge of Champaign.

CHAMPAIGN — A new business in Champaign County specializes in providing mental health support during and after pregnancy.  

The Village started in the era of remote therapy and the founders plan to keep it that way.

“Our population actually works very well with virtual, because if you’re not feeling well, you’re at home with a toddler or live far away, it just works really well to log in from home,” says Chief Operating Officer Kate Ross.

The Village started as a remote business last summer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ross works cross-legged from a sofa chair in her suburban home on the edge of Champaign.

She has focused her career on maternal mental health after her own experience with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders after the birth of her first child.

She spent every waking moment watching him breathe.

“I felt that if I stopped paying attention to him for even a moment, he would die. It was that extreme in my head,” Ross says.

About four weeks after giving birth, Ross realized something was very wrong. She decided to move up her post-pregnancy doctor’s visit.

However, the nurse at Ross’ appointment dismissed her hypervigilance as normal. So Ross didn’t get help. Instead, she spent the next eight months sleeping one to three hours a night while her husband watched the baby.

Postpartum mood disorders are common and often go untreated

One in five new mothers in Illinois struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. But only a small percentage are diagnosed and receive treatment.

Mental health conditions are the leading cause of pregnancy-related death among white and Hispanic women, a 2021 IDPH study found.

Two of the three therapists at The Village are currently accepting patients. Clients can pay for therapy through many major insurers. If they pay out of pocket, fees start at $75 an hour, depending on income level.

The Village also recently established a free support group, but the slots for the group have already filled up.

Ross says that The Village does not currently accept Medicaid, because it is challenging for small providers to handle. She says the founders know how many patients that policy cuts out and that accepting Medicaid may become a future goal for the business.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost half of children in Illinois get their health insurance through Medicaid.

For those struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety, Postpartum Support International lists mental health providers and support groups by ZIP code. 

Emily Hays is a reporter for Illinois Public Media. Follow her on Twitter @amihatt.

Picture of Emily Hays

Emily Hays

Emily Hays started at WILL in October 2021 after three-plus years in local newsrooms in Virginia and Connecticut. She has won state awards for her housing coverage at Charlottesville Tomorrow and her education reporting at the New Haven Independent. Emily graduated from Yale University where she majored in History and South Asian Studies.

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