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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