Approximately 800,000 women are diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD) each year, although many women are undiagnosed. The National Child and Maternal Health Education Program (NCMHEP), led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, is a national coalition of maternal and child health organizations, including ACOG, created to identify key challenges, review relevant research and research gaps, and initiate educational activities in maternal child and health.
NCMHEP conducted an extensive environmental scan, literature reviews, and two rounds of focus group testing on postpartum depression, evaluated the evidence and developed target messages. Print products were created to ensure consistent messaging about PPD. The program will raise awareness through coalition members', as well as National Institutes of Health's, print and digital communications channels.
Postpartum depression represents a large spectrum of perinatal mental illness. In addition to depression, women commonly experience anxiety and other mental health disorders during pregnancy and postpartum. The initiative educates the general public and supports providers in educating patients that “it's not just postpartum, it's not just depression.” This theme is reflected in the initiative's educational posters, action plan, and conversation starter tool for family members.
NCMHEP highlights critical issues and disseminates information to patients and providers. Because of the program's unique interdisciplinary coalition, the program engages a range of providers who reach patients throughout the perinatal period, increasing the likelihood of raising awareness among patients and providing many opportunities for screening and referral to mental health treatment.
NICHD, Bethesda, MD
Financial Disclosure: The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.