Removing barriers to coordinating care across agencies and service providers, asking patients with depression if they have children and if their depression affects family members and requiring health plans to cover a greater range of mental-health services would help put the focus on the family, according to the report.
In addition, making affordable depression treatment available outside of traditional doctor's offices may encourage people to make use of the services. Suggested locations include Head Start facilities, schools, prisons, other community locations and people's homes.
The report also called on states to revise regulations that prohibit services from being offered outside of clinical settings, and urged federal agencies to establish a national program to improve the ability of primary-care providers, mental-health and substance-abuse professionals to treat depression and lessen its effects on children.
To help protect children from the negative impact of parental depression, the report suggested that Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) extend Medicaid services for new mothers to two years after birth, a critical period of development.
CMS could reimburse primary-care providers for mental-health services and cover preventive services for children at risk of developing problems, rather than cover treatment only after problems occur.
The study was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, California Endowment, U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
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