Studies of interventions intended to improve the quality of the design and organization of primary care services for treating adults with depression have resulted in improved outcomes—including quality of care, individual clinical outcomes, cost-effectiveness, and employment status. The implementation of these interventions offers important lessons in designing new approaches for depressed parents.
Adding a parent-child dimension to adult depression care requires linkages of a range of services and systems integrated across a diverse range of settings.
Existing exemplary strategies in individual service settings—primary care, home visitation, early childhood and parenting training programs, schools, the criminal justice system, and community-wide programs—offer important lessons regarding the challenges faced in implementing such strategies for depressed parents and their outcomes.
Federal efforts in the identification, treatment, and prevention of depression among parents and its effects on children focus primarily on maternal depression that occurs during pregnancy or the postpartum period. Current efforts are scattered across several agencies in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and include data collection, health education, treatment, prevention, workforce development, and other research activities.
A few state-level initiatives have developed and implemented strategies focused on the needs of depressed parents and their children—particularly targeted to women and other vulnerable populations. These initiatives have focused on the training of service providers, expanding access to screening and services, and promoting public awareness to help reduce the stigma associated with mental health disorders.