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Seizing New Policy Opportunities to Help Low-Income Mothers with Depression: Current Landscape, Innovations, and Next Steps.

Publication Year: 
Personal Author: 
Schmit, Stephanie. Walker, Christina.
Corporate Author: 
Center on Law and Social Policy.
Public Policy Report
Page Count: 

If the nation could get better at identifying and treating maternal depression among low-income women, particularly women with young children, it would be an extraordinary public health opportunity, as the National Research Council (NRC) and Institute of Medicine (IOM) pointed out in their comprehensive 2009 report on depression in parents. One reason is that depression is widespread among low-income mothers—for example, one in nine babies in poverty has a mother suffering from severe depression, and half have a mother experiencing depression at some level of severity. The second reason is the harm untreated depression presents to both mother and child. It hinders a mother’s capacity to help her young child develop, places children’s safety and cognitive and emotional development at risk, and stymies her own efforts to escape poverty. Unfortunately, even though research shows that effective treatments for depression address these challenges, low-income mothers of young children have very high rates of untreated depression. (Author Abstract)

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