This story was published in partnership with Huggies.
Having a newborn land in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is the kind of experience that no parent should have to endure alone. And given that NICU parents are at a higher risk for postpartum depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD, they can require support long after the hospital stay is over. That’s why the work of Hand to Hold, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting NICU parents, is so important — and why its brand-new app is such a big step forward.
Available for iOS and Android and as a web-based, desktop version, the Hand to Hold app connects NICU parents to a variety of resources (in English and Spanish) designed to help them no matter what the specifics of their situation are. The most impactful for many will be the 1:1 support from Family Support Specialists, certified Mental Health Peer Specialists, who were previously only available in hospitals. It also features access to support groups for parents in different situations as well as a private virtual chat community that lets parents connect with one another.
This ability to connect with other parents going through this kind of traumatic experience is vital for parents even after a NICU stay ends. Caring for a medically fragile child following hospital discharge can be isolating, as many NICU graduates have complex healthcare needs, feeding issues, developmental delays, and learning challenges that can prolong the mental anguish.
The Hand to Hold app also includes a library of NICU-related podcasts, virtual webinars, and a comprehensive resource library curated to parents’ personal profiles. And thanks to the support of Huggies, the app and all of its services are entirely free, so NICU parents don’t have to worry about the financial impact of getting the help they need.
“Creating a mobile app is essential to help eliminate barriers to support for all NICU parents,” notes Kelli Kelley, Hand to Hold Founder and CEO and NICU parent. “This app will provide access to emotional care for NICU parents regardless of financial means, cultural barriers and other inequalities in the healthcare industry.”
The Hand to Hold mobile app is available on the App Store and Google Play by searching “Hand to Hold.”