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Hand to Hold provides Mental Health Support for Texas Children’s Hospital NICU Families

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Hand to Hold, a national nonprofit that provides early intervention mental health support for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and bereaved parents will now provide direct support to parents at Texas Children’s Hospital and pilot a new virtual support model at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. This collaboration will offer mental and emotional health resources to families navigating the challenges of a NICU experience or loss of a baby.

“A traumatic birth and a NICU stay can disrupt bonding and increase a parent’s risk of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. It can also impair parent-child interactions, which can have a devastating impact on a child’s cognitive, social, emotional, and self-regulatory abilities,” said Kelli Kelley, Founder and CEO of Hand to Hold. “Research demonstrates the proven benefits of peer support include improved mental health of the parent, improved problem-solving capabilities, greater engagement by parents in their child’s care, and increased preparedness when caring for their baby at home,” Kelley added.

Hand to Hold’s programs are based on a peer support model – recommended today by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Hand to Hold’s family support specialists are NICU and bereaved parents who receive extensive training to earn certification as mental health peer specialists. They provide direct and virtual support at the baby’s bedside, lead in-person and virtual support groups, provide educational materials and help parents celebrate milestones through Hand to Hold’s Milestone Bead program. NICU parents also have 24/7 access to Hand to Hold’s leading app where they can find community, inspiration, and education through Hand to Hold’s extensive educational resources and podcasts – all at no cost to parents.

Hand to Hold and Texas Children’s Hospital celebrate their new partnership to provide mental health support for NICU families.
Hand to Hold and Texas Children’s Hospital celebrate their new partnership to provide mental health support for NICU families. Photo Credit: Texas Children’s Hospital

“We are pleased to partner with Hand to Hold and offer this meaningful service to our families as they navigate the NICU and beyond,” said Dr. Kristina Reber, chief of neonatology at Texas Children’s Hospital. “We have the nation’s best doctors and nurses caring for our littlest and most vulnerable patients, and it’s important for us to also provide a resource for our parents and families that can support their mental and emotional health. There’s no one better to share that guidance and compassion than someone who personally knows what these families are going through. The peer-to-peer support from the certified specialists at Hand to Hold will give our families a more intimate level of mental health support that will help comfort them during their NICU journey.”

Funding for this partnership is generously provided by the Bad Pants Open, which since 1998 has raised over $7 million to enhance innovation and excellence in the research, treatment, and care of infants at Texas Children’s Newborn Center®.

“The Bad Pants Open Committee is excited to be able to provide the Texas Children’s NICU families with such a meaningful peer-to-peer support service,” said Adam Law, chairperson of the Texas Children’s Bad Pants Open Committee. “As a NICU dad myself, I cannot quantify the benefit of having access to someone who has been through this experience to provide empathy and understanding, and it was an important goal for us to bring this unique mental health support system to our families. Every year, the Bad Pants Open raises funds for tools and services that go above and beyond the expert medical care provided at Texas Children’s, and this partnership with Hand to Hold will offer our patient families invaluable emotional support, guidance, and encouragement during an incredibly stressful and overwhelming time.”


Hand to Hold® is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) that is dedicated to providing personalized emotional support, education and community to parents who have had children in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or the loss of a baby. Hand to Hold is removing barriers for support by growing a hybrid model of in-person and virtual support in service to their mission. Support is provided in English or Spanish to parents at no cost to families and all support is designed with the emotional, physical and social needs of the NICU parent. For more information, visit Hand to

Texas Children’s, a nonprofit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The system includes the Texas Children’s Duncan NRI; the Feigin Tower for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, the first hospital devoted to children’s care for communities north of Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital North Austin, the new state-of-the-art facility providing world-class pediatric and maternal care to Austin families. The organization also created Texas Children’s Health Plan, the nation’s first HMO focused on children; Texas Children’s Pediatrics, the largest pediatric primary care network in the country; Texas Children’s Urgent Care clinics that specialize in after-hours care tailored specifically for children; and a global health program that is channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, visit

Source: Hand to Hold