MOMs Partnership Gives Birth To Stop & Shop Mental-Health Hub

Allan Appel PhotoStop & Shop received an unusual delivery Friday: a mental-health and job-training “help desk.”

The delivery went smoothly and without stress. The desk is the flagship of a future 12 “hubs” in the city designed to bring stress-reduction techniques, job training, diaper access, and just a shoulder to rest on for new moms.

A ribbon-cutting for the hub took place at the store on Whalley Avenue. About 40 S & S staffers, shoppers, and city and state officials, including self-described mom and grandma Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, were on hand for the delivery.

The midwives were the New Haven MOMs Partnership, a public mental-health outreach and training program of Yale University’s School of Medicine, Stop & Shop Store Manger Anne Demchak, and the state.

There are three other “hub” locations also operating in town: at The West Rock Authors Academy, a public school; at the Boys and Girls Club on Columbus Avenue; and in the lobby area of MOMs Partnership headquarters at 40 Temple St.

However, those are all in rooms set aside in existing facilities.

Participants Friday hailed the Stop & Shop hub as the city’s and country’s first and only pioneering help desk/kiosk for young moms in a supermarket.  Click here for a more detailed description of the “hub” concept; and here for a previous article, when the grocery store kiosk, or one-stop help desk for moms, was announced in December.

Eight more hubs are on the drawing board. Their locations won’t be announced into the end of the year, said Dr. Megan Smith of the medical school’s psychiatry and public health departments. Funding for all the hubs is coming from a $3.4 million state grant out of money that originated with the federal government.

Smith said she would like to see future sites at drug stores or laundromats—locations, like the grocery store, where women congregate to do the work of child-rearing and can receive assistance without stigma.

“I can’t wait to cut the ribbon and get it going,” said Natasha Rivera-Labuthie, the “ambassador” or manager of the S & S hub.

The build-out of the kiosk area, with its sleek, modern furniture and trim, Japanese-y sliding doors, has already attracted between 150 to 200 moms, and some dads. Rivera-Labuthie said she has made connections with many of them, pitching the MOMs Partnership programs, particularly the free stress reduction course offered in a community room above the store.

Rivera-Labuthie (pictured) characterized the location of the kiosk, at the entryway of the store and beside brightly advertised big bargains of the day, as ideal. “A lot of moms will stop there, load kids in the carriage, look up at the sales and say, ‘What’s that?’” She responds by saying that moms can get their groceries and a stress management program or useful referrals at the same time.

Speaker after speaker Friday called the pioneering kiosk a significant achievement and a portal into the future of how mental health care will be delivered to young mothers across the country.

The kiosk was designed by Newman Architects.

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