Drawing out postpartum depression

Dr. Judy MikacichJudy Mikacich, MD, California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative co-chair

In September 2011, physicians, mental health professionals, and women’s health advocates came together for the first time to discuss awareness of and care for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD.) Founded and led by Joy Burkhard, MBA, a member of the Junior League of Los Angeles, the group refers to itself as the California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative. The collaborative’s mission is to bring stakeholders together to exchange ideas and form relationships to increase and improve maternal mental health awareness, diagnosis, and treatment.



Research suggests that 10%–20% of women will suffer from perinatal depression or anxiety, 3% will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of delivery, and 0.2% will suffer from postpartum psychosis. Untreated, these disorders can have devastating consequences on the mother, her baby, and her family.

The collaborative hosts one-day forums where leaders, politicians, advocates, and researchers from across the US gather and share their ideas at panel discussions and problem-solving luncheons. Our first forum was convened at the State Capitol in Sacramento in May, which is Perinatal Depression Awareness Month in California.

At this meeting, the collaborative connected Magellan, a behavioral health insurance company, and two well-known psychologists. Together they identified certified PMAD training programs for Magellan’s providers. A credentialing program will commence in early 2013 and will be a model for other insurers. It will make it easier for women and referring physicians to find qualified providers and better care.

Hanging posters or placing fliers in ob-gyn offices with information on postpartum depression is a great way to help women find support and let them know they are not alone.


On Thursday, January 24, 2013, the collaborative will host a panel discussion and luncheon in Los Angeles, featuring psychiatrist Laura Miller, MD, and other prominent stakeholders. I invite all District IX members to join us. View program and registration information.

To improve public awareness, the collaborative partnered with Postpartum Support International (PSI). PSI staffs a nationwide volunteer hotline for troubled families. With the help of the collaborative, PSI has developed marketing materials for doctors’ offices. These materials (such as the poster featured below) can be ordered or downloaded free of charge on the California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative website.

Drawing Out Postpartum Depression