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Five Action Steps to Address Maternal Depression in Head Start Programs


While roughly 15% of new mothers suffer from maternal depression, the rates are much higher in families with lower incomes.  In fact, 52% of mothers in the Early Head Start research study reported high levels of depressive symptoms (Administration for Children and Families, 2002).

Maternal depression interferes with a mother’s ability to be responsive to her new babies and makes parenting toddlers and preschoolers more difficult.  Head Start programs have a lot of resources available to them to address this issue. 

Here are some action steps and resources that programs can take to reduce the impact of depression in the families they serve.

  • Identify families in need of support through validated screening tools
  • Train staff about depression warning signs and how to talk with families
  • Provide reflective supervision for staff working with families who have mental health challenges
  • Connect families with community-based treatment services

  • Reduce stigma by promoting awareness of depression as a common and treatable condition

Click on the icons below to read more about each action step and to access resources to help you working with mothers and their families.

Identify Families

Train Staff

Provide Reflective Supervision

Connect Families

Reduce Stigma


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