Maternal depression and anxiety, often referred to as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, are the most common complication of childbirth, affecting at least one in six new mothers in Los Angeles.  According to the 2012 Los Angeles Mommy & Baby (LAMB) Survey of the Los Angeles Public Health – Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Programs the rates are much higher among low-income and ethnic minority women, approaching 50%. 

Despite these high rates, few new and expectant mothers are asked about depression or anxiety at their obstetric appointments.  According to the 2012 LAMB study, less than half of women discussed depression with their provider at a postpartum visit and only one-third discussed anxiety at a postpartum visit.  Many health care providers cite lack of referral resources that address postpartum depression and anxiety as the primary reason for failing to screen patients. 

The Maternal Mental Health Resource Directory (directory.maternalmentalhealthla.org) addresses this barrier head-on by listing more than 185 agencies and private practioners who provide services and support to pregnant and new mothers.  Women and heath care providers are able to search for resources based on location, services offered, ages served, languages spoken, insurances accepted, and whether no or low-cost options are available. 

Evidence-based services provided include support groups, individual and family therapy, specialized clinical services, and medication management for pregnant and postpartum women.    As the Los Angeles County Perinatal Mental Health Task Force continues its initiatives to train hundreds of more providers in the county to recognize and respond to maternal depression, the directory will continue to grow.

Dr. Caron Post, executive director of the Lost Angeles County Perinatal Mental Health Task Force says, “We are proud to launch this innovative and easy-to-use resource to pregnant and new mothers in Los Angeles.  We know that depression and anxiety experienced during and after pregnancy often lead to poor birth outcomes, including prematurity, low birth weight, and elevated stress hormones in the infant.  Left untreated, perinatal depression and anxiety can result in lifelong health and social problems in both the mother and child.  The Maternal Mental Health Resource Directory is an effort to increase access to care for all women so that they and their infants can thrive.”

The Maternal Mental Health Resource Directory was generously funded by the Ahmanson Foundation. The Maternal Mental Health Resource Directory is available at directory.maternalmentalhealthla.org.

 The mission of the Los Angeles County Perinatal Mental Health Task Force is to remove barriers to the prevention, screening and treatment of prenatal and postpartum depression in Los Angeles County.  In addition to hosting the Maternal Mental Health Resource Directory, the Task Force offers training and technical assistance to health care, mental health and community-based providers serving prenatal and postpartum women.   A printed toolkit entitled Bringing Light to Motherhood: Community Provider Perinatal Mental Health Toolkit is also available for purchase.  More information is available at MaternalMentalHealthLA.org

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