2012 Annual Forum

May 7, 2012| State Capitol | Sacramento, CA | Rally and Forum: A Mother’s Well Being

Maternal Depression Press Conference and Panel Presentation

 Held Monday, May 7, 2012 in Sacramento, CA

Experts and concerned citizens from around the state convene at the state capitol to promote the need to support new mothers’ well-being.

The California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative, a volunteer non-partisan association, formed at the urging of the legislature held its first stake-holder meeting at the capitol yesterday.

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, physicians, mental health professionals, and concerned citizens, gathered on the capitol steps surrounded by the rose garden to hear from Dr. Judy Mikacich, an OBGYN, and Co-Chair of the California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative, Assemblymember Mary Hayashi representing the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, Assembymember Ben Hueso, father of four and a Raul Martinez, the widower of Kelly Abraham Martinez, who took her own life in 2010, three months after their daughter was born after developing a severe case of postpartum depression.

Raul shared, that his wife Kelly dreamed of being a mother and had an ideal pregnancy.  But after 27 hours of labor, they were exhausted, and this set the tone for Kelly’s remaining months.  Though she was in an extreme state of sleep deprivation, concerned about giving her daughter the best, Kelly breast fed on-demand around-the-clock, and soon developed a severe case of postpartum depression whichp cost her life.  “Melina and I should be taking Kelly to brunch on Mother’s day this Sunday, or perhaps treating her to a day at the spa.  I can’t do that.  Instead my gift to her is sharing our story with you so more families aren’t torn apart like mine.”

“The health of our communities depends in large part on the health of our mothers” explained Assembly member Roger Hernandez, who co-hosted the day’s events. “Infants, other children and spouses suffer too when a mother isn’t healthy.”

Nearly 1 in 4 women will experience depression at some point in their lives.  Women are most likely to experience depression during the primary reproductive years (ages 25-45).  Maternal depression, which occurs during and after pregnancy (clinically referred to as Perinatal Depression) occurs more often than most people realize.  In fact, it is estimated to impact 10 to 20% of women and is the most common complication of childbirth.  The percentages are even higher for women who are also dealing with poverty, and can be twice as high for teen parents.

Symptoms of maternal depression can start anytime during pregnancy or the first year postpartum and can last for months or years.  Symptoms can include any of the following:

  • Exhaustion coupled with an inability to sleep, even with capable care for the baby

  • Inability to cope with the demands of a new baby or a lack of interest in the baby

  • Feeling overwhelmed, guilty, shameful, hopeless and/or confused

  • In severe cases thoughts of harming the baby or self

There are many factors that put a woman at a higher risk for developing Maternal Depression, including:

  • A personal or family history of depression

  • Thyroid disease or history of Premenstrual disorders such as PMS

  • Increased life stressors, caused by things like a new job, financial stress, a troubled relationship, etc.

  • Worries about inadequate support for caring for the baby

  • Fertility challenges, complications in pregnancy, birth or with breastfeeding

“There is so much opportunity to make simple changes in how we educate and care for pregnant women and new mothers, shared Joy Burkhard, Co-Chair of the Collaborative.”

There are many things that we can do that could have a profound effect, including:

  • Educating women and their husbands during birthing classes

  • Encouraging medical and social work schools to cover maternal depression in course work

  • Asking hospitals to adopt protective sleep times during the fragile time after delivery and to provide women with information about maternal depression at discharge.

  • Creating a credential for mental health professionals and other clinicians who have received training in maternal health so patients and their doctors can identify resources who are informed and able to treat women effectively

  • Encouraging health insurance companies to consider reimbursing health care providers for non-traditional arrangements, such as screening performed by a pediatrician who sees a woman frequently during the first year postpartum.

Judy Mikacich, the Collaborative Co-Chair stated, “The mission of the Collaborative is to inspire change.  There were a lot of ideas and business cards exchanged today and commitments made to continue this great work for California’s mothers and families.”

“Thanks again for inviting me to share on the panel.  I thought the day was very powerful and the issues raised will stay in my thinking for quite some time.”

Michelle Brennan-Cooke, PhD
Vice President, Clinical and Network Strategy
Magellan Health Services


“I echo everyone’s sentiments when I say what a great day it was – and it’s going to keep going, because so many connections were made.  I’m spending my evening following up with folks I was able to visit with and begin to form collaborations.”

Emily Dossett MD, MTS
Reproductive Psychiatrist
Assistant Clinical Professor, LAC+USC
Director of Maternal Wellness Clinic


“I just wanted to thank you for allowing me to come to the event and letting me share my story. It was a great event and I met a lot of cool people and heard a lot of thank yous, it was amazing.  I also had several cashiers say to me during my errands “were you on TV yesterday?” Several people recognized me from the interview and felt compelled to tell me their stories.”

Lauren McCrea
Mother who shared her story about recovering from
postpartum depression and anxiety


“Our family would like to thank the California Legislature, the California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative, and all of the other stakeholders that have put forth a consistent effort to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and improve the way our health care system assesses, prevents, and treats all forms of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders.  Having lost my wife, Kelly Abraham Martinez, to this horrible disease, I have firsthand knowledge of the devastating effect this disease can have on a family.  The press conference and subsequent panel discussion at the Capitol were amazing and will continue to move this important issue forward.  Words cannot express how happy I am to see California moving in the right direction in the way we treat expectant mothers, new mothers, and their families.”

Raul Martinez, widower of Kelly Abraham Martinez


“Joy, It was great meeting you yesterday, and I wanted to wish you congratulations on a wonderful event! Please keep CPA in mind on other ways to collaborate on this important issue. Thanks.”

Amanda Levy
Director of Government Affairs
California Psychological Association


“The panel was incredibly informative and inspiring! I’ve already talked to every MD and RN I know! Thank you all who put this panel together!”

Meredith Younghein, Junior League of San Francisco

Hosted by:

The California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative
Assemblymember Roger Hernandez The California Legislative
Woman’s Caucus The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Press Conference Speakers:

Assemblymember Roger Hernández
Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma
Judy Mikacich, MD CA Maternal Mental Health Collaborative Co-Chair and ACOG
Raul Martinez, surviving husband of Kelly Abraham Martinez

Panel on Emerging Treatment Models & Best Practices for
Maternal Mental Health

Topic 1 Promising Practice Models, Mental Health within OBGYN, Pediatric and Primary Care Practice Settings:
USC-Eisner New Family Care Pilot: Perinatal Behavioral Health Screening and Intervention Embedded in the Medical Home

  • Brain Prestwich, MD, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, USC, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Family Medicine, Medical Director, USC-Eisner New Family Care Pilot

  • Emily Dossett, MD & Practicing Psychiatrist, USC-Eisner New Family Pilot Project

Carol Berkowitz, MD & Practicing Pediatrician, former American Academy of Pediatrics Chair, Harbor UCLA, Department of Pediatrics at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center

Brian Stafford, MD & MPH Children’s Hospital of Colorado & Professor University of Colorado School of Medicine

Topic 2 Inpatient and Outpatient Day Programs:
Program overview, what’s ideal/working what would you do differently if you could?
Kris Peterson, MS, LMFT, El Camino, CA Hospital Day Treatment Program
Christena Raines, NP, University of North Carolina Inpatient Wing featured on NPR

Topic 3 Telehealth Models
Telemedicine/health uses technology to improve access to care, provider-to-provider interactions and health outcomes
Michelle Brennan-Cooke, Ph.D. VP Network Development at Magellan Health Services, Lessons from Autism Telehealth Delivery
David Cohn Regroup Founder, online maternal mental health support groups