Faculty & Staff Achievements

Care for the Whole Person

With Parentline, USF professor improves the health of new parents and their children

Dhara Meghani, professor in the school of nursing and health professions, works to fill the care gap between prenatal and pediatric services for parents.

Recent estimates indicate that one in five women experience prenatal anxiety and depression and one in seven women are diagnosed with postpartum anxiety and depression. Many parents, including fathers, experience hormonal fluctuations, stress, mood changes, and worry well into their baby’s first year of life, which can contribute to subclinical or late-onset postpartum depression and anxiety.

When parents are unhappy, stressed, or anxious, their children feel it too, Meghani said.

Left untreated, these challenges can cause poor physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development.

Meghani joined USF in 2014 after nearly a decade of training and working in various clinical settings and care systems that highlighted the challenges and barriers in the transition to parenthood for new families. She soon launched Parentline to address the shortage of clinicians trained in perinatal and infant mental health and to provide a flexible and accessible service for new parents seeking support for themselves and their children.

Today, Parentline is a free telehealth program for expectant and new parents, accessible to any parent within California regardless of income, legal immigration status, and health insurance. Graduate students in the PsyD Program apply to be clinicians through Parentline and receive training in telehealth interventions, brief and strategic therapy, perinatal health, and child development, after which they take cases with parents in the community.

Parentline has served more than 200 parents through telemental health services and community workshops working with community organizations such as the Community Music Center, San Francisco Unified School District, Recess Collective, and Our Family Coalition. One PsyD Program graduate reported, “Without my Parentline training, I do not think I would have the same clinical capacities to wonder or be curious about experiences unique to tele-psychotherapy.”

In 2019, the University of Denver’s (DU) PsyD Program, in collaboration with Parentline, trained supervising faculty and students in the Parentline approach and it became part of the interventions offered to families seeking care at the DU Cub Clinic. Parentline has since then successfully provided mental health access to Spanish-speaking parents and families in rural areas of Colorado.