The mission of the Maternal Mental Health NOW is to remove barriers to the prevention, screening and treatment of prenatal and postpartum depression in Los Angeles County. Founded in 2007 by Kimberly Wong, Esq., Maternal Mental Health NOW is a volunteer network of over 200 individuals representing more than 50 public, private, and community agencies as well community leaders, research partners and advocates for mothers, infants and families, survivors of maternal depression and affected family members. Maternal Mental Health Now is a project of Community Partners, which serves as its 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor, and is led by Executive Director Caron Post.
Highly treatable and often preventable, perinatal depression and related mood disorders are often not diagnosed due to lack of screening, inaccessibility of informed treatment, stigma and lack of reimbursement from payors. Maternal Mental Health NOW works to remove these barriers through three program areas:
- Training & Technical Assistance - works to increase perinatal depression screening, referral and treatment rates by offering trainings and hands-on technical assistance to a wide range of health care and community-based agencies across Los Angeles County.
- Public Awareness -utilizes a variety of grassroots strategies to reduce the stigma attached perinatal depression, including the distribution of educational materials, organization of community events and the recruitment of women to its Share Your Stories Speakers Bureau.
- Policy & Advocacy - aims to develop and advocate for public policies at the county, state and national levels that support perinatal depression screening and treatment in obstetrical, primary care and pediatric settings.
The target population of the Maternal Mental Health NOW’s services are women and their offspring who are at high-risk for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders due to multiple and cumulative stressors, such as poverty, unemployment, homelessness, lack of health insurance, immigration status, poor social support and chronic illness, and co-occurring conditions, such as substance abuse and domestic violence. We reach this population by providing ongoing, hands-on training and technical assistance to health care and community-based providers who serve women, children and families in the Los Angeles safety net. Maternal Mental Health NOW works across Los Angeles County, with a specific focus on Service Planning Areas 1, 3, 4 and 6, which have the highest rates of moderate and severe depression.