Program targets postpartum depression

Aim is to avoid problems down the road

Health Alliance Plan (HAP) takes a proactive approach to postpartum depression, screening all new mothers within two to four weeks of the birth.

New mothers are mailed a postpartum packet with the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Screen Prime-MD screening tool included, which is mailed back to the health plan’s coordinated behavioral health management (CBHM) department to be scored and for follow-up.

The intervention is timed so that women at risk for postpartum depression can be identified before they see their obstetrician for their six-week check-up. Postpartum depression usually does not set in until two to four weeks after the birth.

"It’s a high-risk population, and there can be tragic circumstances if postpartum depression isn’t treated," says Mary Clare Solky, MA, director of coordinated behavioral health management for the Detroit-based health plan.

The behavioral health department scores the screening information. A case manager calls women whose score exceeds a certain threshold and suggests that they see a behavioral health specialist.

If the new mothers don’t respond, the case managers follow up and send them a second letter if necessary.

"Women are very receptive to getting help. We do a lot of intervening," Solky explains.

The behavioral medicine case manager is the lead person working with postpartum depression members. They make sure women with a high score are referred to a specialist and then follow up to make sure they go to their appointment.