Enhancing Maternal Depression Recognition in Health Care Settings: A Review of Strategies to Improve Detection, Reduce Barriers, and Reach Mothers in Need

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Abstract

Maternal depression is a major public health concern in the United States affecting mothers, children, and families. Many mothers experience depression, and exposure to maternal depression can put children at increased risk for psychopathology and poor psychosocial development. Early recognition of maternal depression is a critical step in promoting healthy development and preventing adverse outcomes in children and families. In this review, we examine some of the major barriers that mothers face in seeking help for depression; discuss optimal settings in which to implement maternal depression screening; review available depression screening tools for identifying mothers in need of care; discuss steps providers can take after screening; examine barriers to screening; and present information about promising initiatives developed to address these barriers.

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