mographic populations (e.g., racial/ethnic groups, socioeconomic groups);

  • examined strategies for widespread implementation of best practice and promising practice programs given the large numbers of depressed parents; and

  • identified strategies that can foster the use of effective interventions in different service settings for diverse populations of children and families.


A variety of sources informed the committee’s work, including: five formal committee meetings, expert presentations, and a public workshop; a review of literature from a range of disciplines and sources; technical reviews on selected topics; and analyses of data and research on depression in adults and parents and its consequences for their children. The committee considered research on the causes, comorbidities, and consequences of depression in adults (specifically including parenting and child health outcomes), various health and support services for depression care, the features of interventions and implementation strategies for depression care in diverse populations, and public policies related to implementing promising interventions. The committee also visited two programs that provide a multifaceted approach to mental health services in substance abuse settings to underserved mothers and their families.

Through our review of the literature and discussions with service providers, policy makers, and stakeholder organizations, the committee identified four major issues that are faced in attempting to address the problems associated with the care of depressed parents. These are the integration of knowledge regarding the dynamics of parental depression, parenting practices, and child outcomes so that it is transdisciplinary and links research to practice; the need to recognize the multigenerational dimensions of the effects of depression in a parent so that the needs of both parent and the child are identified in research and practice; the application of a developmental framework in the study and evaluation of the effects of parental depression; and the need to acknowledge the presence of a constellation of risk factors, context, and correlates of parental depression. These four themes pervade each area that the committee addressed, and they are essential to improving the quality of care for depressed parents and those who are affected. But many promising strategies identified here for screening, treatment, prevention, and policy interventions have emerged that deserve consideration to engage the large and diverse numbers of families affected by depression.

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