The North Shore Postpartum Depression Task Force was convened in 2007 by Ipswich’s Birth to Three Family Center, which is operated under the auspices of the Ipswich Public schools and is a Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grantee funded by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education & Care. We created the Task Force because we believe in the profound importance of strong maternal and infant mental health.
The Task Force has been inspired by the following strategies (which were originally outlined by policy analyst Ngozi Onunaku's document titled: Improving Maternal and Infant Mental Health - Focus on Maternal Depression:
- Increase maternal depression awareness to providers in the health care community, early care and education, and family support.
- Perform outreach and education to expectant and new mothers to address the stigma and patient barriers associated with maternal depression.
- Assure early identification of maternal depression in health care settings by addressing barriers to recognition, screening, assessment, and referral.
- Encourage investment in evidence-based interventions that improve mother-child relationships.
- Build a comprehensive network of community perinatal service providers to strengthen mental health in the pregnant and postpartum family.
North Shore Postpartum Depression Task Force Accomplishments:
2007: Creation of North Shore Postpartum Task Force with representation from Health Education Services, Pathways for Children, Department of Social Services, Connecting Young Mom's, North Shore United Way, Family Medical Associates, Ipswich Public Schools, and staff & parents from the Birth to Three Family Center. Additional participants and supporters in 2007 included Representative Mary Grant, Department of Public Health, the Cape Cod Family Network and the Cape Cod Maternal Depression Task Force, Northeast Health System, Massachusetts Family Network, Cape Ann Early Intervention, Cape Ann Families, Hamilton-Wenham Early Childhood Partnership, WIC, Catholic Charities, independent therapists, midwives and doulas, Family Continuity Programs, various early childhood education programs, Healthy Families, and the Hamilton-Wenham Early Childhood Partnership. The Task Force conducted outreach and education activities through meetings articles in the local media.
2008: Task Force members participated in the ”Maternal and Infant Mental Health Training Subcommittee” organized by the Department of Public Health. Task Force volunteers organized an April presentation by MotherWoman Inc. titled “Professional Training -A Comprehensive Understanding of the Prenatal and Postpartum Emotional Experience: Assessment, Spectrum and Treatment”. Over 50 practitioners attended. Other members developed a local PPD triage flowchart (attached). In June, the Task Force presented at the DPH statewide conference on maternal & infant mental health. The presentation focused on why and how to get legislators involved in family friendly postpartum policies. That summer, the first newsletter was published for Task Force members. In the Fall, members offered a presentation to newly formed The North River collaborative family network for PPD. Group members were also Invited to participate in DPH legislative meeting regarding PPD with five state Representatives including Ellen Story. Around the same time, with a $500 startup donation from NSUW, Task Force members created www.northshorepostpartumhelp.org with resource pages for mothers, family, friends, and providers. a Boston Globe article featured Margo Casey and Task Force members interviews regarding PPD and the group’s new website. The site is still running and experiencing up to 3000 “hits” per month. Following another presentation (for Catholic Charities for the Northeast Fathers and Family Network), the very busy year ended with a community forum titled “Promoting Postpartum Mental Health; A Training for Medical and Family Support Providers”. 3 prominent speakers and 70 community members attended the forum. A $2000 grant from New England BioLabs helped make the event possible, as did Dr. Ed Tronick’s decision to waive his usual $10,000 speaker’s fee.
2009: Representative Story files bill in January – “An Act Relative to Postpartum Depression” with input from the Task Force. Task Force conducts self-assessment and goal setting via SurveyMonkey. In April, a representative from the Department of Children and Families provided a free training for Task Force members. In May, the task Force provided an exhibit at the Partners in Perinatal Health conference. Generous grants from Blue Cross/Blue Shield and the Anderson Foundation grants supported the training of WIC and Birth to Three staff members in PPD screening and referral procedures. Screenings were administered in community throughout the summer in community settings. In October, members provided a PPD education and outreach event at Addison Gilbert Hospital.
2010: In January Task Force members participated in PPD legislative hearings on Beacon Hill. In February the Boston Globe published an editorial supporting the proposed PPD legislation. That same month, members were invited to participate in Postpartum Support International of MA professional advisory group. In March a Task Force member and PPD survivor was featured in an article in the Salem Evening News. In the late spring 1000 “New baby? Now what?” magnets were purchased and distributed in community and medical settings throughout the region. At the same time volunteers developed of community training modules suited for promoting PPD awareness, staff training, and basic screening. Volunteers conducted 2 trainings for teachers and parents. The first was sponsored by the Peabody Public Schools ($400 donated to Task Force), and the second was free training in Ipswich for the Children’s Trust Fund. In July the Senate passed the Post-Partum Depression bill with a unanimous 39-0 roll call vote. With initial approval in both the Senate and the House, all that remained for the bill to become law was the final "enactment" votes in the House and Senate, and the Governor's signature. Of nearly 7,000 bills filed that session, only several hundred made it that far in the process and fewer still - only a little more than 400 - became law.
Task Force Community Interaction:
- Mailing list of almost a hundred persons and organizations. http://www.NorthShorePostpartumHelp.com continues to draw many visitors.
- Our Facebook Page is kept up to date with current news and research on all issues related to postpartum.
- Monthly Task Force meetings at local hospitals for support and sharing of resources, networking, planning, fundraising and orchestrating regular community trainings.