Methods: Five papers are presented in this symposium, each of which has been selected to reflect an area of innovation in depression and behavioral health risk screening that can help enhance social work’s multi-systemic and integrative approach to science and practice. The symposium begins with an examination of the empirical pathways by which fathers’ depression influences children's development in a large sample of young children (N=3001) in low income families. Next, we focus on integration of interpersonal trauma along with identification of depression symptoms in a sample of pregnant adolescents (N=224) who encounter concomitant life stressors. The symposium moves on to specifically consider the characteristics of women (N=1059) who elected vs. excluded themselves from health system screening for perinatal depression. Finally, two papers consider the integration of depression screening in existing community services. The first paper uses focus groups (N=33) to consider benefits and barriers to depression screening in Head Start, and the final paper examines behavioral health risk screening from a statewide service enhancement study (N=1,489) using the first point of contact with maternal and child home visiting programs for screening, brief intervention, and referral.
Results: By presenting and integrating findings across these studies, the symposium offers conceptual, developmental, empirical, and translational knowledge bridging research and practice regarding the screening and identification of mental health and behavioral health risks during pregnancy and postpartum. Collectively, these studies demonstrate the importance of including both parents in screening, considering the complexity of traumatic life events and behavioral health risks when identifying possible depression, and the importance of building networks of support to facilitate widespread screening and thereby enhancing service utilization.
Conclusions and Implications: Comprehensive and translatable approaches to screening and identification of depression are necessary in order to promote maternal and infant mental health. Papers in the symposium offer innovative and integrative approaches for reaching underserved populations and advancing research and practice that is relevant to real world enhancements in mental health intervention and services.