The Task Force was formed in February 2007 as a result of the commitment of the Los Angeles County Office of the Public Defender and the leadership efforts of Legislative/Criminal Justice Policy Advisor Kimberly Wong, Esq. a survivor of postpartum depression. The Task Force is a network of over 30 individuals representing more than 15 public and private agencies involved in outreach, screening, and treatment services for prenatal and postpartum depression and other mood disorders, along with community leaders, research partners, and advocates for mothers, infants, and families. With community support from private foundations, First 5 LA, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and private supporters, the Task Force has been successful in raising awareness of the needs of women suffering from prenatal and postpartum mood disorders, educating health professionals, and examining public policies.
Since its inception, the Task Force has
- Influenced screening practices in health systems and public health programs.
- Contributed to increased trainings and offerings on perinatal mood disorders for health care providers.
- Helped shape the planning process for the Mental Health Services Act’s Prevention and Early Intervention initiative (MHSA/PEI).
- Co-sponsored with LA Best Babies Network a 5-year policy initiative to address perinatal mood disorders with funding awarded by First 5 LA .
- Co-sponsored with Postpartum Support International a local-national conference on perinatal mood disorders in Los Angeles in August 2009 attended by over 200 health and mental health professionals from greater Los Angeles and others from different parts of the country.
- Obtained the dedication of August 2009 as Perinatal Mood Awareness Month, as proclaimed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
The Task Force strives to identify gaps and unmet needs, mobilize and align resources, implement systematic and coordinated approaches, and disseminate knowledge and findings that are aimed at:
- Raising awareness and removing stigmas associated with perinatal mood disorders.
- Providing access to screening, effective treatment, and coordinated care for perinatal mood disorders.
- Training health professionals and improving clinical practice.
- Supporting affected individuals and their families.
- Improving the coordination and functioning of systems of care.
- Addressing the unique needs of underserved and vulnerable populations with a particular focus on Medi-Cal recipients, low-income women and high-risk populations including mothers affected by criminal court involvement, substance abuse, domestic violence, and cultural dislocation.
- Establishing responsive and effective policies to address and integrate services addressing perinatal mood disorders.