LOS ANGELES – In order to implement the US Preventative Services Task Force’s recommendation that women be screened for postpartum depression during pregnancy and after giving birth, Maternal Mental Health NOW offers training and resources to medical professionals in Los Angeles County treating new and expecting mothers. 

Bringing Light to Motherhood is online training program on maternal mental health designed to increase the capacity of health care providers serving pregnant and postpartum women to identify and treat perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  Topics addressed include screening & assessment, differential diagnoses, treatment & intervention, cultural considerations, preventative approaches and impact of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  Continuing education credits are available to those who complete the course. 

For providers who identify a patient who is suffering from postpartum depression, the Los Angeles County Maternal Mental Health Resource Directory (directory.maternalmentalhealthnow.org) lists over 220 resources—more than 75% of which offer no or low-cost services—in Los Angeles County that provide specialized treatment and support to this vulnerable population.  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. 

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 training on postpartum depression and anxiety and lack of referral resources as the primary reasons for failing to screen patients. 

Dr. Caron Post, executive director of Maternal Mental Health NOW says, “We are excited to learn about the US Preventative Services Task Force’s recommendation that pregnant and postpartum women be screened for postpartum depression.  And we are proud to be building the capacity of Los Angeles County’s medical professionals to implement these recommendations. We know that depression and anxiety experienced during and after pregnancy often leads to poor birth outcomes, and left untreated, can result in lifelong health and social problems in both the mother and child.  We are working to increase access to care for all women so that they and their infants can thrive.”

The mission of Maternal Mental Health NOW is to remove barriers to the prevention, screening and treatment of prenatal and postpartum depression in Los Angeles County.  More information is available at MaternalMentalHealthNOW.org