Carnegie Mellon University
July 13, 2021

Health Starts at Home

By Kristy Locklin

When Dr. Jennifer Lynn Barkin was a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University, she vowed to overcome her fear of mathematics. In 1997, she graduated from the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences with a major in statistics

“I think fear of math is extremely common,” Jennifer says. “The faculty in the statistics department at CMU showed us how it can be applied towards understanding human health and disease patterns — that made all the difference for me. I received a wonderful education at CMU and a degree that holds up in any forum.”

Jennifer’s promise not only benefited her. It has helped countless people around the world, particularly new mothers and children.

Through human health data research and focus groups with new moms, Jennifer developed an assessment, known as the Barkin Index for Maternal Functioning.

The 20-item tool measures how people cope with daily life in the 12 months following childbirth. It addresses not only physical functioning, but mental and emotional well-being, too.

“It’s pretty well-recognized at this point that the system doesn’t adequately address maternal mental health,” she says. “Ideally, mental health professionals would reside in every clinician’s office.”

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