Untreated maternal depression is a major public health problem that affects large numbers of women, especially low-income women, and their children, according to a CLASP report. More than half (55%) of poor infants have a mother who is experiencing some level of depressive symptoms. Maternal depression has been shown to undercut children’s healthy development and stymie women’s efforts to escape poverty.
While safe and effective treatments exist, low-income and uninsured women are far less likely to get treatment. Expanding Medicaid coverage to low-income adults (including mothers) offers states a major opportunity to increase screening, identification, and treatment of maternal depression. Identifying and treating maternal depression also has the potential to save money for state Medicaid programs by improving other health issues faced by children and mothers, the report said.