Hand to Hold, a national nonprofit dedicated to offering early intervention mental health support for parents with infants in the NICU and those who have experienced loss, is expanding its services to Texas Children’s Hospital. This collaboration will provide direct, on-site support to families at Texas Children’s Hospital, while also piloting a new virtual support model at Texas Children’s Hospital the Woodlands. The initiative aims to deliver comprehensive mental and emotional health resources to families facing the unique challenges of the NICU experience, ensuring they receive the care and support needed during this critical time.

“A traumatic birth and a NICU stay can disrupt bonding and increase a parent’s risk of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. It can also impair parent-child interactions, which can have a devastating impact on a child’s cognitive, social, emotional, and self-regulatory abilities,” stated Kelli Kelley, Founder and CEO of Hand to Hold. “Research demonstrates the proven benefits of peer support include improved mental health of the parent, improved problem-solving capabilities, greater engagement by parents in their child’s care, and increased preparedness when caring for their baby at home,” Kelley added.

Hand to Hold’s programs are based on a peer support model – recommended today by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Hand to Hold’s family support specialists are NICU and bereaved parents who receive extensive training to earn certification as mental health peer specialists. They provide direct and virtual support at the baby’s bedside, lead in-person and virtual support groups, provide educational materials and help parents celebrate milestones through Hand to Hold’s Milestone Bead program. NICU parents also have 24/7 access to Hand to Hold’s leading app where they can find community, inspiration, and education through Hand to Hold’s extensive educational resources and podcasts – all at no cost to parents.

“We are pleased to partner with Hand to Hold and offer this meaningful service to our families as they navigate the NICU and beyond,” stated Dr. Kristina Reber, chief of neonatology at Texas Children’s Hospital. “We have the nation’s best doctors and nurses caring for our littlest and most vulnerable patients, and it’s important for us to also provide a resource for our parents and families that can support their mental and emotional health. There’s no one better to share that guidance and compassion than someone who personally knows what these families are going through. The peer-to-peer support from the certified specialists at Hand to Hold will give our families a more intimate level of mental health support that will help comfort them during their NICU journey.”

Funding for this partnership is generously provided by the Bad Pants Open, which since 1998 has raised over $7 million to enhance innovation and excellence in the research, treatment, and care of infants at Texas Children’s Newborn Center®.

“The Bad Pants Open Committee is excited to be able to provide the Texas Children’s NICU families with such a meaningful peer-to-peer support service,” stated Adam Law, chairperson of the Texas Children’s Bad Pants Open Committee. “As a NICU dad myself, I cannot quantify the benefit of having access to someone who has been through this experience to provide empathy and understanding, and it was an important goal for us to bring this unique mental health support system to our families. Every year, the Bad Pants Open raises funds for tools and services that go above and beyond the expert medical care provided at Texas Children’s, and this partnership with Hand to Hold will offer our patient families invaluable emotional support, guidance, and encouragement during an incredibly stressful and overwhelming time.”


The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.

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