LOS ANGELES, January 07, 2013 - Cigna is sponsoring a day of learning about maternal mental health, featuring Dr. Laura Miller of Brigham and Women's Hospital and pediatrician and best-selling author Dr. Harvey Karp, among other experts from around the country. At the January 24, 2013 meeting, area doctors, behavioral health clinicians, community leaders and representatives from national organizations will discuss how to improve mental health screening and treatment among pregnant women and new mothers.
The event is hosted by the California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative (CMMHC) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and will begin at 8:15 a.m. at the California Endowment's Center for Healthy Communities in Los Angeles. More information about the event and registration is available at http://camaternalmentalhealth.org/events/.
Founded by Joy Burkhard, a Cigna employee, CMMHC is an organization dedicated to increasing awareness, screening and treatment of maternal mental health disorders. It convenes doctors, legislators, organizations and experts to focus on issues around maternal depression.
"Having a new child is a very exciting and emotional time for the entire family," said Dr. Doug Nemecek, senior medical director for Cigna's behavioral health unit, who will be participating in the meeting. "While mood swings or bursts of crying are often caused by 'the baby blues,' it's important for new parents to identify more serious mental health issues like postpartum depression or birth-related post-traumatic stress disorder. Doctors, hospitals, insurance carriers and others in the health system can play an important role in advocating for screening and treatment."
A 2010 report of the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that more than 400,000 infants are born each year to mothers who are depressed, making perinatal depression the most underdiagnosed obstetric complication in America. Some of the signs of postpartum depression are feeling very sad, hopeless or empty; feeling afraid to be alone with the baby; loss of pleasure or interest in daily activities; loss of appetite or losing weight; difficulty sleeping, or an inability to concentrate.
Cigna offers online education about postpartum depression, questions to ask the doctor and a short assessment women can take to determine if they should seek professional help. Customers enrolled in plans that include Cigna's Healthy Pregnancies, Healthy Babies® maternity program have access to screening for stress and possible depression during pregnancy, as well as two to five days following delivery and again three weeks after delivery to help to identify postpartum depression. Cigna also offers a free depression screening tool on its website for physicians.
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