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Berkshire County Perinatal Support Coalition (BCPSC) brings Postpartum Depression education to medical community

For Immediate Release
May 28th, 2013

For more information contact:
Liz Friedman, Program Director, MotherWoman


Berkshire County Perinatal Support Coalition (BCPSC) brings Postpartum Depression education to medical community

The Berkshire County Perinatal Support Coalition is sponsoring a training for medical providers, mental health professionals and social service providers who work with mothers at risk for or experiencing perinatal emotional complications, like postpartum depression and anxiety.  The training, Best Practices in Screening of Postpartum Depression, (Berkshire Medical Center is hosting this training -- see details below) will address the concerns many providers have about effectively detecting mothers at risk for or experiencing perinatal emotional complications. 

Sherri-Lee RyanMann, clinical social worker, screens mothers for depression and anxiety on the Mother Baby Unit at Berkshire Medical Center. She says, “Many women have a preconceived notion of what it means to have postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. While some of what they already know is accurate I often find opportunities to provide further education.  The fact is that postpartum mood and anxiety disorders are fairly common, they are treatable, and they are not a reflection on a mother’s ability to parent. ”

 “When I meet with 2nd or 3rd time moms and describe symptoms of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, many women say something like ‘Oh, I felt that way after I had my first child. I did not know that is what that was. I am so glad I know how to get help this time if it happens again’.  This is why we screen every mother on the OB floor about her experience with depression and anxiety.”

“Once we introduce the topic of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders it is easier to have a conversation with them about how they are feeling. When I can talk to them, they open up to me and then we can get them the support they need.”

10 – 20% of all mothers and 40 – 60% of mothers living in poverty experience postpartum depression.  Yet until recently, screening was not recommended in the obstetrical or pediatric setting. Thanks to the recent passage of the 2010 MA PPD Legislation, as well as advocacy by medical researchers and associations nationally, screening for perinatal emotional complications is becoming more of the norm in obstetrical and pediatric practices. 

Postpartum depression can be devastating for mothers and their families.  Children are at risk for developmental and behavioral delays when their primary caregiver, often mom, is experiencing severe depression and/or anxiety.  Fortunately, postpartum depression can be easily detected when standardized screening protocols are in place. There are effective treatment options available that can make a big difference to the recovery of mothers.  One of the primary goals of the Berkshire County Perinatal Support Coalition (BCPSC) is to ensure that providers have the training and support they need to screen mothers and the tools necessary to connect them with resources in the community. 

Sherri-Lee RyanMann, also a member of the Berkshire County Perinatal Support Coalition (BCPSC) says, “Screening of mothers has been the standard of care at BMC and we are so pleased that MA is taking leadership to ensure that all mothers are screened and connected to resources during this critical time. “

Mothers are eager for help and providers are just as eager to provide it. The BCPSC, with representative leadership from the Brien Center, BMC, Service Net, CSO and other organizations, has developed protocols and identified resources within the community so that providers know how to help mothers when they need it the most. 

Sherri-Lee RyanMann runs a support group for mothers experiencing perinatal emotional complications. Mothers get great relief from realizing that they are not the only ones that have had these experiences.  Support groups are one of the essential supports that need to be provided within communities to address postpartum depression.

Sherri-Lee RyanMann said, “We are fortunate to have so many excellent resources in our community.  The coalition is ensuring that providers know how to connect with these resources and feel confident in the process as they screen mothers for ppd.”

Dr. John Dallenbach, pediatrician in Pittsfield said, "It has been our goal to implement screening of mothers at our pediatric practice.  We believe that it is the responsibility of pediatricians to support families at every level. We all know that if parents aren’t doing well than they can’t be there for their children in the way that they want to be. We want to ensure that every family gets off to a good start. Supporting mothers is an essential step.”

Liz Friedman, Program Director of MotherWoman says, “It is an important next step to ensure that ALL providers who work with mothers during pregnancy and the postpartum time are trained in screening, assessment, referral and appropriate treatment.  Perinatal emotional complications impact between 500 -1000 women in Berkshire County every year.  We need to address this issue systematically across the county.”

The Postpartum Depression Law of 2010 empowered the MA Department of Public Health to develop depression screening recommendations for all providers who care for mothers or have contact with mothers from birth through 6 months postpartum.  This includes in-hospital and obstetrical, as well as pediatric care.   The recommendations for in-hospital and obstetrical screening will be forth coming from MA DPH and the first reporting deadline on screening is anticipated for Spring of 2014. 


Best Practices in Screening of Postpartum Depression: A Training for Health Care Providers and Maternal Health Professionals
Wednesday, June 5th from 5:30pm – 9:00pm
To register contact: www.berkshireahec.org

Presented by AHEC and MotherWoman
Sponsored by Berkshire County Perinatal Support Coalition
Hosted by Berkshire Medical Center