NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A new nationwide analysis reveals that many New Mexico communities are at increased risk for maternal mental health issues.

The Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health, a nonprofit working to boost maternal health care across the nation, worked with Plum Organics, a baby food company, to combine data from dozens of sources to compare the relative risk mothers face in each county in the U.S. And the results suggest that in much of New Mexico, mothers face a high risk of things like crime, that contribute to poor mental health.

The analysis includes data such as rates of intimate partner psychological aggression, a survey of emotional support for mothers, and rates of children in poverty. Then, after the data was combined, counties were compared by a standardized score, called a Risk Factors Score (RFS), with a higher score meaning a higher risk for maternal mental health issues.

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Plum Organics x Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health Map | Courtesy Plum Organics

“The highest RFS levels were concentrated in the ‘Deep’ South. Severe conditions were identified in the Mississippi Delta region, the Gulf Coast, greater Appalachia, and New Mexico & Arizona,” the Policy Center for Mental Health said in their conclusion. “Common themes present in all of these areas surround poverty, social instability, and isolation.”

Counties in the northwest and central portions of New Mexico revealed a particularly high risk for maternal mental health issues. The state, as a whole, ranks worse than the national average in terms of maternal mental health support, the analysis shows.

Key issues identified by the Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health include an estimated shortage in maternal mental health providers and relatively low rates of insurance coverage for maternal mental health.