2016: GAINS for perinatal mental health

Wow! 2016 has been busy in the way of recognizing the importance of the mental health of growing families across the U.S, for Florida and locally here in Alachua County.  Come with us as we look back on 2016.

In January, 2016, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force issued a very important recommendation related to adult depression and specifically to depression during pregnancy and after delivery.  This is the FIRST time a recommendation has been issued specifically for the perinatal time period and is particularly important for the recognition on the time of pregnancy. Find it HERE.

The month of May is recognized only recently on the global level and informally on the national level through Postpartum Support International for awareness of maternal mental health. Here in Florida, 2016 marked the FIRST YEAR elected decision makers recognized the importance of maternal and perinatal mental health. Governor Rick Scott signed the FIRST proclamation for the month of May to serve as "Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month."  THIS IS HUGE!  


The Governor's Children and Youth Cabinet which is comprised of leaders such as the Secretary of the Dept. of Juvenile Justice, the Secretary of DCF, Department of Health, AHCA and many more decision makers, also recognized the importance through not only inviting me to speak to them on the importance of this topic but by RESPONDING with their own proclamation of the month to be recognized!  Find it HERE.  You can hear the presentation that took place before the Cabinet on "World Maternal Mental Health Day, 5/4/16 HERE

Locally,  the Alachua County Perinatal Mental Health Coalition, a group of stakeholders has continued to grow and formalize in structure to carry out the Mission. The ACPMHC created and launched Florida's Inaugural Perinatal Mental Health Conference on May 5 & 6 in Gainesville with one day dedicated to professionals and advocates who work with women, men and babies and a second day open to the community for awareness.  This was the FIRST conference of its' kind in Florida.  We also launched a county-wide needs assessment focused on maternal mental health led by 2020 Mom, as the first East Coast early adopter.  

The ACPMHC became a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2016.  This will give the Coalition the capacity to raise funds for delivering awareness, education, training and services in Alachua County.  Visit our (developing) website to learn about the Mission, see awareness materials, our activities and a growing list of resources HERE

Local medical providers (OB/GYN, pediatricians, Midwives, doulas) in Alachua County are screening for anxiety, depression and related symptoms of pregnancy, loss and postpartum on a more regular basis.  THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT IT AND ASKING YOU.  The conversation is becoming more commonplace.

Ending the stigma that surrounds the emotional adjustment to fertility, suffering a loss, emotional complications during pregnancy and after birth BEGINS with lifting the veil of silence.  Both providers and women and men have to know it's ok (and important) to talk about.

Here in our office, the practice has grown tremendously this year (and some exciting growth for 2017 awaits!) We have added three additional licensed therapists, Cindy, Megan and Shaleda. (More about them HERE).  We have joined forces with North Florida Women's Physicians and Midwives group since late summer.  On Wednesdays, I am now seeing patients as part of integrating behavioral health which is part of NFWP's mission of caring for the whole person and "building healthy relationships."  Join our newsletter or our monthly SUPPORT GROUPS and share with someone else you know!  

I also had the pleasure of being including on two podcasts this year.  You can find those here at Mom & Mind with Dr. Kat and here at Maternally Yours podcast

This year wraps up with a really huge "win" for perinatal mental health. This precedent comes after years of efforts of many professionals, advocates, and survivors across the U.S., including families members left behind when Moms have taken their lives and at times, their children's lives while suffering postpartum depression or psychosis.  The President signed into law, the 21st Century Cures Act on December 13th.  Part of this new legislation includes language authored by Congresswoman Katherine Clark through the Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act, authored in 2015. This puts major attention on drawing funding for research and evidence-based services to care for the mental health of Moms.

Great strides forward have taken place in 2016 in recognizing the importance of ensuring screening and resources for the mental health of Moms.  It is our hope here at Postpartum Wellness & Family Counseling that efforts continue in the right direction as well as MORE focus on the mental health of Dads.  We know the prevalence rates are HIGH (1 in 7 women and 1 in 10 men).  We must put equal focus on the mental health of BOTH parents for optimal outcomes for babies, children (and healthy families) who are our next generation of Moms and Dads.

Postpartum Wellness & Family Counseling looks forward to all that 2017 holds in serving our local community and women and men throughout Florida through our telemental health service capability.  Will you join us by SPEAKING UP and reaching out for support?  Help us continue the quest to normalize the conversation about the importance of caring for the mental health of Moms and Dads by sharing THIS POST, our website or our FACEBOOK page with your family and friends.  Please consider talking to your health providers and making the decision to care for your WHOLE HEALTH today.

Best wishes for 2017,

Lauren DePaola, LCSW/Owner & Therapist