Three-Part Treatment Helps Low-Income Mothers with Depression

One of the biggest barriers to psychological treatment is access. Many people who need mental health services the most are the least likely to seek help because of the costs associated with care. Mothers of small children may be limited by financial restrictions and time constraints. Finding the money to pay for therapy may be just as challenging as finding an affordable child-care or transportation option. Taken together, these obstacles often prevent many mothers with depression from getting help. Because it has been shown that maternal depression can lead to negative child developmental outcomes and can elevate harsh parenting practices, it is essential that treatment strategies be devised to reach every mother in need.

Some methods that have been implemented are telephonic therapy and Internet-based treatments, both of which have been shown to be effective. But until now, few approaches have integrated personal, telephonic, and Internet components. Lisa B. Sheeber and her colleagues at the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene decided to fill this void. They developed a three-pronged strategy for maternal depression called Mom-Net that uses home visits followed by Internet-based courses and telephonic support. To test the program, Sheeber assessed 70 economically disadvantaged mothers with depression before and after they participated in eight sessions of Mom-Net or a delayed program with treatment as usual (TAU). She found that the Mom-Net participants not only completed more sessions than the TAU participants, they also had much greater reductions in symptoms of depression and harsh parenting. In fact, the Mom-Net participants completed more than three quarters of their assignments and reported being very satisfied with the program and support coaches.

Sheeber believes that one of the most significant effects of the program was the reduction in harsh parenting and improvements in parental satisfaction, two factors that greatly influence child development. The findings were further supported when the TAU group was later enrolled in the Mom-Net intervention and had similar outcomes. “In summary, the Mom-Net intervention appears to be feasible and efficacious as a remotely delivered treatment for economically disadvantaged mothers,” Sheeber said. She added that future work should replicate these findings in other mothers with similar challenges to treatment.

Sheeber, Lisa B., John R. Seeley, Edward G. Feil, Betsy Davis, Erik Sorensen, Derek B. Kosty, and Peter M. Lewinsohn. Development and pilot evaluation of an Internet-facilitated cognitive-behavioral intervention for maternal depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 80.5 (2012): 739-49. Print.

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  • Nellie


    October 18th, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    If you create a progran that addresses the specific needs of these moms and gives them real world solutions for problems that they face on a day to day basis then I think that it is only normal that you would see more imporvement versus what you may encounter with a treatment as usual kind of program. I think that a lot of times these moms in addition to not having access to care face the fact that they just can’t relate to the treatment being offered and cannot find any way to relate to it in their rel life. This program sounds ike it is clearly addressing that deficit and helping more moms who need the help.

  • Stephanie


    October 18th, 2012 at 4:36 AM

    I sure do wish that there were more programs like this available for these kinds of mothers, or any parent really.

  • darby


    October 18th, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    while the effectiveness of this program is good news,I don’t see how it addresses the lack of access or money for seeking such help.yes,this was undertaken as a study and the treatment may have been offered for free but what now?how are they going to go ahead with the funding for such a program?

  • trudy s

    trudy s

    October 18th, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    What do you do about the parents who are hesitant to let someone that they may not know very well into their homes? I know that is many communities there is this inherent sense of misgiving and distrust about people from different backgrounds and races than them, so how do you overcome this? Also I know that there are those who do the best they can with the money that they have but there is still a real sense of shame and embarassment when they think that their home does not measure up in a material way. Have any of these issues been addressed in a program like this that does require home visits instead of the parents coming to the office of the therapist?

  • Grant


    October 19th, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Being a parent is hard, and I think that this very fact is one little tidbit that sometimes get lost along the way.

    People, especially young people, think that this having a baby will be waht will fill a void in their lives, but many times when they are ill equipped to deal with the reality of having a baby, then they become withdrawn, depressed, and overall dissatisfied with being a parent.

    How can you end this with texts and email? It just seems like it would take so much more than that. I hope that the particiapnts are in this for the long haul, that’s for sure.

  • Marie


    October 19th, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    It can be so difficult for a single mother with young children.and a weaker economic status can really make it aunt has been through this in her younger days and even as a child,i remember how difficult everything was for her and her family.

  • Stan


    October 20th, 2012 at 5:39 AM

    Low income yet with easy access to cell phone and computers for email?
    Hmmm… is the program providing payment for that too?
    Or is this just another case of someone staying at home and milking the system while I am out working my tail off everyday, and they still have better stuff than I do?
    yeah, I can be kinda bitter about that

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