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When it comes to gender, psychiatric illnesses sometimes do discriminate. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating and anxiety disorders are more common in women than in men. And while substance use disorders affect more males than females, women progress more quickly from use to dependence.
McLean’s Center of Excellence in Women’s Mental Health is in the vanguard of the movement to understand the role gender plays in psychiatric illnesses and to develop the most effective treatments based on that knowledge. A generous gift from The Kathleen and Ronald J. Jackson Foundation enabled the center to establish a unique post-doctoral clinical fellowship in women’s mental health. The inaugural fellow, Anne Blythe Rose, MD, MPH, recently completed her fellowship training.
“Our goal when creating the fellowship was to provide comprehensive exposure to all of the center’s clinical services for women and girls with psychiatric disorders in order to be trained in the many evidence-based treatments we offer,” explained the center’s chief, Shelly F. Greenfield, MD, MPH. “By embedding Dr. Rose in a wide range of programs, she gained a broad perspective on the specialized care we offer to girls and women, while at the same time helping to connect the programs.”
In addition to rotations at Gunderson Residence, the Klarman Eating Disorders Center, the 3East program for adolescent girls, the inpatient trauma and dissociative disorders unit, and the Hill Center for Women, Dr. Rose also rotated through Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Fish Center for Women’s Health, treating women’s behavioral health needs during pregnancy and postpartum periods.
It has been a fascinating 12 months of learning, said Dr. Rose, who worked with female patients with a wide range of diagnoses in every type of setting—from inpatient to residential to outpatient. In addition to medication management, she also ran groups, conducted research, and worked with families—teaching them about their loved ones’ illnesses and helping them navigate the challenges of supporting their family members.
“As a resident in adult psychiatry, I was very focused on the individual. So the family work I learned in the women’s mental health fellowship has been especially new to me, and has been both challenging and wonderful,” said Dr. Rose. “I love working with families and being their primary advocate.”
According to Dr. Rose, all of the programs have a collaborative and holistic approach to patient care. Members of many of the treatment teams get together and talk about the presenting problems and collectively determine the best way forward for each patient.
Jackson Foundation Trustee Nancy Rushton said that her family was eager to support the fellowship because it is so novel and could so clearly benefit women and girls with mental health needs. “Women’s mental health is still a relatively new field, and McLean, as usual, is ahead of the curve in terms of training the next generation of clinicians,” she said. “It is exciting to play a role in starting something so new that no doubt will mean better care for women and girls.”