Maternal Mental Health NOW grew out of one woman’s ordeal. After the birth of her daughter, Kimberly Wong, Esq. suffered from such severe postpartum depression that she wanted to end her life. Despite good healthcare and strong familial and social support, she struggled to find informed help. Kimberly formed a group in 2007 that would become Maternal Mental Health NOW, a project of 501(c)(3) Community Partners.

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.

Maternal Mental Health NOW believes that the mental and emotional experience of welcoming a baby to the family impacts the entire family unit.

We believe that addressing mental health during the perinatal (pre-conception to one year postpartum) period is as important as screening for gestational diabetes, and that a parent’s emotional well-being can have as much of an impact on the infant’s life as the nutrition that the baby receives in the womb. We work with healthcare providers, health systems, and state and local government to make the prevention, screening, and treatment of perinatal anxiety and depression part of the standard of prenatal and postpartum care for every new parent in LA County, regardless of their circumstances. We center historically oppressed, marginalized, and under-resourced parents at the heart of our work, as they regularly experience the most significant challenges to receiving timely, informed, and culturally appropriate care.

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OUR VALUES

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IMPACT – We are a volunteer network of community leaders and partners, medical professionals and researchers, survivors and advocates. Our interventions focus on multiple levers to drive systemic change: providing trainings and technical assistance at the provider level, driving awareness and reducing stigma at the community level, and advocating for policy change at the county, state, and national levels. Our small but mighty team is optimized to reach as many parents as possible by focusing on building capacity across the healthcare system, thereby achieving the greatest impact.

DIALOGUE – The vulnerability of welcoming a child into a family may bring up unresolved issues and new challenges, but it also provides an opportunity to heal and stop cycles of intergenerational trauma. For mental health to improve, however, it has to be acknowledged with honesty and without shame. We work to bring the stories of survivors and affected family members to light, believing that these personal narratives can be healing for the storyteller and the catalyst for individual and systemic change.

EQUITY– Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders impact all new and expecting parents, but the repercussions are magnified for those experiencing systemic racism, sexual identity and orientation bias, poverty, unemployment, homelessness, lack of health insurance, immigration status barriers, chronic illness, substance abuse, and intimate partner violence. Maternal Mental Health NOW focuses our efforts on supporting parents and children in communities that are typically the most marginalized, overlooked and oppressed. We partner closely with community organizations to ensure that our programs reflect a holistic understanding of each community’s needs, and strive for the highest standards of cultural humility and relevance.

CONNECTION – Many Maternal Mental Health NOW volunteers and employees have personal stories around perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. This lived experience grounds our work in empathy and vulnerability, and allows us to understand that the goal of even our most ambitious systemic efforts is in small and immeasurably impactful moments of human connection. We believe that at the heart of our impact is the compassion and empathy that we bring to work every day.

GROWTH – Creating a family is one of the most celebrated experiences in life, which also makes it a milestone that can be fraught with heavy expectations and social pressure. Maternal Mental Health NOW aims to replace the superficial trappings of becoming pregnant, a perfect pregnancy and parenthood with the acknowledgment of the full complexity of the experience. Addressing this complexity opens the opportunity for deep and authentic growth.

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OUR MODEL

Maternal Mental Health NOW takes a systems-change approach to improving the system of perinatal mental health care experienced by Los Angeles’ new and growing families. Our model includes three inter-related parts:

TRAINING & TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE – We provide customized training to any person that interacts with an expectant or new family, from a children’s librarian who hosts a weekly story time to an OBGYN. Trainings address how to begin a conversation about perinatal depression and anxiety, how to screen and how to treat. Trainings and consultations are available in person and online.

STIGMA REDUCTION – Our posters, brochures, online patient engagement tool, storytelling workshop and public awareness events are designed to encourage all new parents who are suffering from depression or anxiety that it is okay to reach out for help.

ACCESS TO CARE – We advocate for policies and practices at the city, county, state and national level that ensures that all families have access to timely, informed and culturally appropriate perinatal mental health care.

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