First 5 San Diego would like to recognize the work that Family Health Centers of San Diego (FHCSD) and the local American Academy of Pediatrics Chapter 3 are doing to support maternal mental health. The Maternal Services Project is a program under the Healthy Development Services (HDS) that serves mothers experiencing mild to moderate depression. 

“When a Mother experiences depression her child is at an increased risk of developmental delays, as well as depression and other emotional disorders […] depression can negatively affect a mothers sensitivity to her child’s needs and her ability to provide the nurturing and consistent parenting essential for healthy brain development – the foundation of lifelong learning” (American Academy of Pediatrics CA 3). 

FHCSD staff have seen the effects of maternal depression on young children in their screenings and treatment sessions. With the support of Newton Center for Affect Regulation (NCAR) and the American Academy of Pediatrics Chapter 3, FHCSD has been able to normalize screening for depression at pediatric well-child visits and pediatric developmental services. 

The Maternal Services Project program components include using a trauma informed approach to screen for depression, individual treatment, mother-child dyadic treatment, care coordination, peer support group and social support events for mother and family, psychiatry and medication management, psycho-education and linkage to clinical treatments and resources for mothers who fall outside of the mild to moderate range. 

Post-treatment data shows that the program is making a quantifiable difference. After treatment, increases were seen in mothers’ use of positive parenting techniques, skills and knowledge, improved attachment, increase skills in reading children’s cues, better ability to set limits and boundaries increasing self-efficacy, as well as learning coping skills and self-care techniques.   

Thank you, Family Health Centers of San Diego and American Academy of Pediatrics Chapter 3, for supporting maternal mental health. High Five! 

To learn more about the Maternal Services Project visit: