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Mental Health & Depression

The mental health of each family member affects the entire family. Nearly one in five adults in America live with a mental illness. Of those living with mental illness, 6.9 percent or 16 million adults are living with depression and 18.1 percent or 42 million adults are living with anxiety. One in seven women suffers from postpartum depression, the most common complication after childbirth, and it is estimated that up to 23 percent of pregnant women experience depression during pregnancy. There are a range of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders that affect almost all mothers.

Data show that between up to 25 percent of fathers experience PPD, a prevalence that increases up to 50 percent if the mother is also depressed. While mental health is closely linked to income, it is pervasive regardless of race or ethnicity. Family food insecurity predicts high levels of children’s mental health symptoms, particularly hyperactivity/inattention. Addressing food insecurity and associated problems in families could help reduce the burden of mental health problems in children and reduce social inequalities in development.

Poor nutrition and food insecurity are associated with poorer physical and mental health in all age groups, but in young children they can deeply affect well-being and development in ways that can endure for a lifetime. Even babies’ mental health matters. See our new section on Children’s Mental Wellness at the bottom of this page.

Although mental health services can be effective, significant barriers — including access to care, fear of the stigma associated with care, and lack of insurance — prevent many from seeking services. Research indicates that many children in need of mental health services don’t get treatment or suffer for years before being diagnosed. WIC Can Help families get the support they need. Better yet, WIC supports families in ways that can often prevent mental health problems from an early age.

What Local Agencies Can Do:

1.Get to know the tools and information on this page.

2.Print out those resources you feel will best serve the staff and participants at your agency.

3.Take every opportunity to promote mental wellness and mental health care.

4.Provide information and refer participants to services when needed.

5.Assure participants that seeking help is the best way to care for themselves and their families.

Suicide Prevention Resources

Perinatal Depression Resources

Mental Health Support Resources

Children’s Mental Wellness