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  November 19, 2001

Postpartum Depression Scale Adopted

The work of Cheryl Beck, a professor of nursing, and Robert Gable, a professor of educational psychology (now emeritus) has received a big boost. The Rowland administration is recommending that the state distribute the researchers' Postpartum Depression Screening Scale to all appropriate health care personnel in the state.

The recommendation is one of 18 made by the Maternal Depression Working Group, led by Lt. Gov. M. Jodi Rell. She founded the group in June, at the request of the Governor, after two tragic incidents - one in Texas and the other in Connecticut - in which distraught mothers killed their children.

About a dozen health care experts from a number of institutions and organizations were invited to participate in the group, including Beck and Dr. Stephen Curry, chair of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the UConn Health Center. Some of the recommendations include launching a major public education campaign to de-stigmatize mental illness, with a special focus on maternal depression, and producing a video on postpartum depression to be distributed to instructors of prenatal classes.

Postpartum depression is experienced by 400,000 mothers in the United States each year, but has been difficult to detect. In her report to the Governor, Rell suggested that the Beck and Gable survey "may become the most important tool in assessing and treating the mood disorder."

The survey and manual are scheduled to roll off the presses early next year.

Janice Palmer

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