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Maternal Depression Screening and Response Embedded in Ohio’s Help Me Grow Home Visiting Program
Social and Emotional Health, Home Visiting, Early Intervention
Source Of Information:
ZERO TO THREE Policy Center state updates
Ohio Help Me Grow Program/Ohio Department of Health
Beginning in 2012, maternal depression screening is a required component of Ohio’s Help Me Grow home visiting program. Help Me Grow is the state’s Part C early intervention and home visiting program for expectant, first-time, and other parents at highest risk. Mothers in the program are screened using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Those screening positive are referred to community mental health providers for In-Home Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
The effort started with an objective in Ohio’s 2004 early childhood mental health plan, which called for depression screening for parents of children receiving services from any child-serving agency. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and the Ohio Department of Health created several strategies to improve awareness of and screening for maternal depression among pediatricians, to increase capacity among mental health providers to treat maternal depression and to work with home visitors, and to create a systematic identification, referral, and data collection mechanism through Ohio’s Help Me Grow home visiting program. In 2006, the Help Me Grow Maternal Depression Screening Program (MDSP) was piloted in seven of Ohio’s 88 counties. During the pilot phase, participating counties received nominal incentive funds from the Ohio Department of Mental Health (general revenue funds). Transformation State Incentive Grant funds supported the development of the web-based data collection system and the pilot process. In FY 2010, the Ohio Department of Health also began contributing funds to support expansion and sustainability of the MDSP.
Beginning in 2012, maternal depression screening is offered to all families participating in Ohio’s Help Me Grow home visiting program. It is required for families receiving home visiting services and optional for those in Part C early intervention. Following screening via the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, those screening positive, with parental consent, are referred automatically to participating community mental health providers. Trained mental health therapists provide a systematically adapted cognitive-behavioral therapy program that is delivered concurrently with home visiting, In-Home Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (IH-CBT). Cross-system training and monthly conference calls allow mental health providers and home visitors to engage in mutual problem-solving, resolve issues, and motivate ongoing participation.
Ohio’s MDSP has had a strong research and evaluation component from the beginning. Research in Ohio and other states demonstrates that both home visitors and mental health therapists need training and support to effectively treat maternal depression through home visiting. This research is providing a growing evidence base for embedding mental health services into home visiting programs.