Significant gender differences in psychiatric presentation and management strategies have been progressively identified. Gender based violence, socioeconomic disadvantage, income inequality, feelings of subordination, submission and dependency; discrepancies on social status and unremitting responsibility for the care of others are some examples of how the female population is often at disadvantage when compared to men. Yet, resources to specifically help those women remain limited in the vast majority of the globe. We firmly believe that it is imperative to train clinicians to specifically address the mental health needs of women throughout all stages of their lives, particularly during the so vulnerable pregnancy and postpartum periods. Based on that, The University of Illinois at Chicago offers a one-year Women's Mental Health Fellowship designed to train experts in the psychiatric care of women, focusing on psychiatric issues that occur during the perinatal period, particularly among underserved, minority and lower income women. The fellow will acquire expertise in assessment and treatment of psychiatric disorders associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and the postpartum period, in addition to perimenopause, infertility and pregnancy loss, and special circumstances, such as mothers who deliver prematurely or have children with medical problems.
Through a comprehensive focus on women and newborns, our residents and fellows receive excellent training in psychopharmacotherapy for pregnant and breastfeeding women, interpersonal psychotherapy, perinatal loss and infertility, substance abuse in perinatal women, domestic violence, socio-cultural influences on perinatal psychiatric illness, influence of menstrual cycle and menopause, trauma-based disorders, sexual disorders, and the impact of maternal mental illness on the developing fetus and infant. Fellows will be allowed to select elective opportunities in their areas of particular interest and to supplement their training. Fellows will also have the opportunity to develop a scholarly project in women's mental health under the supervision of a research mentor. As the main tertiary center in WMH in Illinois, we get referrals from several areas of our state and neighboring states.Those include:
- Patients with major mental illness who are pregnant or postpartum
- Patients with mental illness related to the reproductive cycle (e.g. bipolar disorder that tends to cycle with menses, depression related to perimenopause or hormonal replacement therapy).
- Patients with severe psychiatric symptoms in the context of gynecologic illnesses.
- Female patients for whom parenting issues are central.
- Victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse or sexual assault.
- Female patients with eating disorders.
- Women who feel they will be better understood on a specialized women's treatment service.