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1/12/12 Governor Patrick Appoints Local Leaders to State Commission on Postpartum Depression 



Liz Friedman


Governor Patrick Appoints Local Leaders to State
Commission on Postpartum Depression


When Governor Patrick created the MA Commission on Postpartum Depression (PPD), he wanted to ensure representation from western MA experts who work with mothers.

He appointed two area professionals, Liz Friedman, Program Director of MotherWoman and Donna L. O’Shea, MD, Medical Director of Health New England.

The Commission, co-chaired by Rep. Ellen Story (Amherst) and Senator Thomas M. McGee (Lynn), is charged with making recommendations to the Department of Public Health and the MA State Legislature on advancing best practices regarding PPD screening, treatment and public and professional education. 

MotherWoman is a local non-profit serving Hampshire, Franklin, Berkshire and Hampden Counties. MotherWoman’s Community-based Perinatal Support Model (CPSM) is being implemented throughout the region and is being enthusiastically received by medical providers, mental health clinicians and mothers as an effective way to address the very critical issue of perinatal mood disorders. The nonprofit’s goal is to create a comprehensive safety net for all mothers who are experiencing postpartum depression or other perinatal emotional complications.   

Ms. Friedman, one of the current appointees to the Commission, suffered a severe perinatal emotional crisis after the birth of her first child 9 years ago. Having received little help from her medical and mental health providers, she organized an active support community in Rhode Island for women with similar challenges, and went on to develop MotherWoman’s Perinatal Support Initiative. 

According to Ms. Friedman, “It’s critical that we implement best practices across mental health, medical and early intervention systems in order to provide the essential care that mothers and families need to thrive during the early years of their children’s lives. When mothers thrive, children do better in every way. This is an important public health issue. ”

Dr. O’Shea, a Reproductive Endocrinologist, says, “As a provider of health care for women I have cared for many women with mild to severe postpartum depression and have seen their challenges in getting clinical help and family support.  I hope this Commission will be successful in getting the Commonwealth health care system to expand the tools and treatments for recognition and treatment for its citizens with this diagnosis.”

For more information on the Commission or to schedule an interview on this subject, contact Rep. Ellen Story at Ellen.Story@mahouse.gov


ABOUT PPD: 10 – 25% of mothers experience postpartum depression (PPD).  These numbers drastically increase when additional risk factors like poverty and teen pregnancy are taken into consideration. When undiagnosed and untreated, PPD can have severe negative effects on mother, infant and birth outcomes including low birth weight of infant, depression and anxiety for mother and developmental challenges to newborns.  This results in increased medical expenses and visits to the ER as well as loss of income to families.  In the four county region there are approximately 9000 births each year.  There are a minimum of 900 – 2250 women suffering with PPD each year in our region alone. 

ABOUT MOTHERWOMAN: MotherWoman’s mission is to support and empower mothers to create positive personal and social change for themselves, their families, their communities and the world. MotherWoman also addresses the socio-economic issues facing American mothers by advocating for family-friendly policy.

Beth Spong, MotherWoman’s Executive Director, says “Through our support groups, training programs and political action, we’re working to ensure that every mother has access to the support she needs in her community.”

MotherWoman programs include:

  • Mothers Groups
  • Postpartum Support Initiative
  • Facilitator Training
  • Professional Training
  • Policy and Advocacy