A new video about postpartum depression marks the launch of a mental health education collaboration by two NIH Institutes and one of the nation’s largest African-American women’s organizations. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) have partnered with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (DST) to create the Mental Health Across the Lifespan Initiative.
This initiative seeks to raise awareness about issues affecting women and their families throughout the lifespan, including mental disorders such as postpartum depression, and issues that can impact mental health, including bullying and aging.The effort stresses the importance of recognizing signs of illness and of seeking help and treatment from health care providers. The partners collaboratively identified the initiative’s target areas to provide information to multiple populations served by the organization including youth, older adults, and women of childbearing age. The focus on postpartum depression responds to a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which calls for increased support, education and research related to postpartum depression by the federal government.
Educational modules—including presentations, guidance documents, and resource materials— have been developed for each of the target areas that will be administered by DST members in the communities they serve. The video, part of the module on postpartum depression, features a former patient and clinical researchers involved in NIMH’s intramural postpartum depression studies.
In preparation for the launch, NIMH and NICHD hosted a series of informational webinars with leaders of DST chapters in the United States and abroad. DST also plans to spotlight the initiative at its 52nd National Convention in Houston, Texas, July 23-25. NIMH and NICHD will host an implementation workshop at that meeting to discuss the project and identify best practices for community engagement.
During 2015 -2016, all DST chapters will be asked to implement programs using the materials developed by NIMH and NICHD. To further encourage participation, the Delta Research and Education Foundation (DREF), in collaboration with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., will award 10 Mental Health Program Grants to Delta chapters that partner with community organizations at the National Convention. These grants will be used to help chapters carry out programs focusing on the issues defined by the initiative.
DST has over 250,000 initiated members and more than 900 chapters worldwide and has been raising awareness about conditions impacting the physical and mental health of women and families for more than a century.