Posted by Kathy Mills

Bringing Postpartum Depression Into LightOn Monday, June 29, Peggy Kaufman, Director of the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support® (CERS), and I attended "Bringing PPD Into the Light: Decreasing Stigma, Supporting Families, and Implementing Policy Change in Massachusetts," the first Postpartum Depression (PPD) Awareness Day in Massachusetts. The event was hosted by Senator Joan Lovely, Representative Ellen Story, and Senator Bruce Tarr and was sponsored by the Ipswich Birth to Three Family Center. Providers, practitioners, health care workers, legislators, and parents gathered in the Great Hall of the State Capitol to share information and resources about postpartum depression.

We heard from many speakers including Jamie Belsito, a former federal lobbyist and business immigration expert. Jamie shared her personal experience with postpartum depression, describing missed opportunities for intervention that required personal tenacity in securing the resources and treatment she needed. Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito also spoke, announcing that MassHealth will begin reimbursing health care providers in the spring of 2016 for the costs of screening women for postpartum depression. We were thrilled with this announcement, which has been years in the making.

Many on the Governor's Commission on Postpartum Depression were also in attendance. In 2012 a law signed into action by former Governor Deval Patrick mandated the creation of a statewide Commission to recommend to the legislature initiatives relating to PPD. A diverse 34-person Commission including health care providers, insurance representatives, PPD survivors, legislators, and state agency representatives was charged with advancing best practices in screening, referrals, treatment, and public and professional education about postpartum depression. Peggy was selected by the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers to serve on the Governor's Commission and has served since its inception.

Among the Commission's successes are universal screening for postpartum depression for all pregnant and postpartum women, pilot intervention projects in three community health centers, and the development of the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (McPAP) for Moms that promotes maternal mental health during and after pregnancy and gives front-line providers a toolkit, training, and a screening protocol to address PPD. We are honored that JF&CS has had such a prominent presence in this initiative and hope that "Bringing PPD Into the Light" becomes an annual event.

Kathy Mills, Associate Director of Programs, CERSKathy Mills, PhD, LICSW is the Associate Director of Programs at the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support®, a center of excellence for direct services, training, supervision, and consultation that focuses on the earliest infant-parent relationship. Her clinical and teaching background has focused on children and trauma, in particular children exposed to domestic violence. A proud mother of twins, Kathy is passionate about empowerment and establishing safety within families. Kathy earned her PhD from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University and her MSW from Simmons College School of Social Work.