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Currently our unit is undergoing construction and we have COVID-19 protocols in place. These have necessitated some changes in our milieu. Please contact Rosalind Roberts, our intake coordinator, at 984-974-3834 for the most up to date information on construction, mixed-milieu, covid precautions, and visitation guidelines.  

The unit was established in June 2011 and is the first of its kind in the United States. It includes 5 patient beds (private and semi-private). Infants are encouraged to visit for as long as possible, but may not stay overnight. Protected sleep times for the mothers are extremely important for recovery.

Our treatment team is comprised of highly trained doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and other therapists that work together to create individualized treatment plans. We provide comprehensive assessment and treatment, including medication stabilization and a vast range of individual and group therapies as appropriate. Our goal is to provide a supportive environment to assist in the recovery from perinatal psychiatric illness. This locked-psychiatric unit is accredited by the Joint Commission and follows their safety standards.


A Typical Daily Schedule and Introduction to Team Members:

8am Breakfast

9am Meeting with Psychiatry Team:

Psychiatrists are medical doctors specializing in mental disorders. UNC Healthcare is a teaching hospital, so at least two psychiatrists are directly involved in your care. Others will participate in the morning rounds. Our team includes attending psychiatrist who supervises resident psychiatrists. These residents are licensed medical doctors completing their training to become psychiatrists. The role of this group of doctors involves assessing all your psychiatric and medical problems. They will then order and oversee your treatment plan during your hospital stay. They will attempt to coordinate your care with doctors and other professionals who work with you outside the hospital. The doctors make decisions about your medications. The doctors hope to answer all your questions about your care and treatment. They want to understand your life circumstances, stressors and concerns. On our team we also usually have medical students. The medical students often are available for more extended discussions during the day.

11am Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy treatment on the perinatal unit focuses on skills clients feel they need to return to their roles at home including those of being a parent and spouse/partner. Treatment sessions may include topics and activities such as cooking, meal planning, creating a family or personal schedule, sleep hygiene, development of daily routines, establishing personal goals, planning for discharge, setting up supports for their return home and improved communication skills.

12pm Lunch

1pm Recreation Therapy

Recreation therapy includes biofeedback, relaxation, exercise, journaling, expressive arts and other coping skills that help target the stress symptoms and emotions that many of the patients on the perinatal unit experience.

2pm Alternative Groups meet approximately twice each week and include:


The Department of Pastoral Care offers groups focusing on spiritual themes on the unit. Participants will have opportunities to explore issues such as grief, healing and meaning in life. The department also offers individual pastoral care and support to patients. A chaplain is available 24 hours a day for emergency visits. If you would like a visit, you may ask the nurse to make the referral or talk to a chaplain after a group session.

Music Therapy

Music psychotherapy groups focus on the following interventions:

  • Practicing emotional agility: Encouraging emotional expressions & processing difficult thoughts and feelings. For our peri folx, the main focus often is surrounding grief, loss, and transitions.
  • Mindfulness through music therapy: I facilitate guided imagery and music, provide psychoeducation on “how to” practice mindfulness with music, and offer music breathing experiences both in group and with individuals.
  • Distress tolerance and coping ahead.
  • Emotional mapping through music therapy: Utilizing patients’ music preference to encourage sensory engagement and promote self-regulation.


Psychotherapy is provided by licensed psychologists and their trainees who specialize in perinatal mental health. Patients can expect to engage i n individual therapy once per week — or more often, depending on staff availability for the duration of their hospital stay. We tailor therapy to meet the needs of individual patients, which means that the topics and strategies addressed in therapy vary from patient to patient. Therapy focuses on providing tools that patients can use to function better in their daily lives and to identify and meet their goals for pregnancy, motherhood or both.

3pm-5pm Flex time and visitation

5pm Dinner

6pm Activities group

Activities therapists provide meaningful activities with the need and interest of the perinatal patients in mind.  Many groups are leisure based which could involve: movement, games, conversation, writing and thought processing.  Activities Therapy uses leisure based interventions to build upon skills that patients may be working on in other therapies such as Recreational, Occupational and Music. Currently Activities Therapy is offered on the PPIU Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm and also at rotating times on weekend days. Additional unscheduled AT groups are held based upon need and availability.

7pm Visitation ends

11pm Dayroom closes

Riah Patterson, MD Assistant Professor Director of Perinatal Psychiatry & UNC Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unit

Unique Features of our Unit include:

  • Protected sleep times
  • Hospital-grade breast pumps, refrigeration and freezer storage
  • Lactation consultants
  • Specialty trained nursing and other staff
  • Group therapies including art, relaxation, behavioral, and psycho-education
  • Up to twice weekly individual interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Optional family and partner psychotherapy consultation
  • Nutrition consultation
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology consultation
  • Spiritual support from hospital chaplains with expertise in the perinatal period
  • Discharge planning and transition to outpatient either in the UNC Perinatal Psychiatry Outpatient program or in the patient’s community


Currently our unit is undergoing construction and we have COVID-19 protocols in place. These have necessitated some changes in our milieu. Please contact Rosalind Roberts, our intake coordinator, at 984-974-3834 for the most up to date information on construction, mixed-milieu, covid precautions, and visitation guidelines.  


Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I get medical care while on the unit? Patients have access to OB consultants, lactation consultants, and other hospital specialties as they are available and indicated.

How long is a typical admission? This varies by patient, but on average 7-10 days. The admission may be longer if the patient starts ECT or has been ill for many months. 

What are the visitation policies during covid? Visitation is currently allowed from 3p-7p. Each patient can have 2 adult visitors and the infant. We also allow frequent facetime/virtual interactions between patients and their family.

Can I breastfeed when my baby visits? Absolutely. We have 3 private rooms which are prioritized for lactating women. Women will have access to hospital grade breast pumps and breastmilk storage.

What are your covid policies? Patients and staff follow hospital covid protocols, wear masks, try to socially distance, and we require covid pcr testing with 48 hours prior to admission and 5 days into the admission.

PPIU Admission Items


For patients from out of town:

Please see the UNC Visitor Information site.

For family or friends traveling with the patient, please obtain the list of hotel accommodations in the area by contacting Patient Relations at (984) 974-5006. Note: there are no accommodations for rooming-in with the baby.

For more information about the Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unit, visit AHRQ Innovations Exchange.

For general information about our Women’s Mood Disorders Program please call 984-974-5217 option 3.

To make referrals to the inpatient unit, please call the UNC Psychiatry Admissions Office at 984-974-3834.