Cape & Islands
Perinatal Wellness Alliance

The Perinatal Wellness Alliance is in need of funding to support the recent increased demand for our free support groups,doula home visiting services, and training for clinical mental health providers and the general public.  To donate, click here and select “My donation is for Maternal Depression”.


Listen to our recent podcast with Gwynne Guzzeau on WOMR  here


Our Formation

In the winter of 2006 professionals from a variety of disciplines across Cape Cod and the Islands (medical, social work, education, childcare, family supports etc.) came together to create the Cape & Islands Maternal Depression Task Force. The work of the Task Force began with identifying the scope of the incidence of PPD on Cape Cod and the Islands and plans to formulate a community wide response.


Our 5-point plan

Once the scope of incidence and systemic deficiencies were identified, the Cape & Islands Maternal Depression Task Force developed a 5-point plan including the following goals, objectives, and measurement:

  1. Increase the public’s identification of Perinatal Mood Disorders symptoms and promote effective treatment options through a public awareness campaign.
  2. Include training for mental health, psychiatric and prescribing providers in treatment of Perinatal Mood Disorders to increase local treatment capacity.
  3. Coordinate and integrate the screening for Perinatal Mood Disorders in primary care practices and hospitals.
  4. Track the effectiveness of the training, screening of individuals and referral process as a result of our efforts through captured data.
  5. Develop preventative strategies to continue supporting individuals at risk of developing PPD and its impact on children and families.

The Task Force continues to increase the public’s knowledge of services and treatment options as well as to promote strategies and supports for prevention.



Goals of the Task Force

  1. To increase capacity of trained and experienced professionals in the fields of Medicine, Mental Health, Nursing, and Social Work by providing educational opportunities through the Task Force.
  2. To increase appropriate and timely screening, assessment, treatment and support opportunities for pregnant and parenting women and their families.
  3. To increase awareness and decrease stigma about Maternal Depression and the importance of prompt and appropriate care.
  4. To continue to educate both parents and professionals on the issues surrounding Maternal/Child Mental Health.

Accomplishments/Changes as a result of the Task Force Efforts:

  1. Supported several families through the process of referral and treatment.
  2. Early Intervention incorporating screening questions into their assessment process.
  3. Cape Cod and Falmouth Hospitals include information in childbirth education classes and upon discharge from the hospital.
  4. The Massachusetts Family Networks (MFN) incorporates information and discussion in their parent/child programs.
  5. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) uses the screening tool (Edinburgh) with families.
  6. Dr. Elmer’s office, Chief OB/GYN at Cape Cod Hospital, and Dr. Talbert’s practice: Cape Obstetrics, Midwifery and Gynecology in Falmouth and Sandwich, use the screening tool with families.
  7. Other communities are looking at using our Task Force model and materials, including the North Shore and the North River Collaborative that started their Task Forces based on our model.
  8. Department of Social Services (DSS), now Department of Children and Families (DCF), is incorporating sensitivity to Maternal Depression in working with families. The initial intake department at DCF now has a heightened awareness of PPD when looking at cases that come through the office.
  9. Resources for Maternal Depression are posted on the Birth Year Network website.
  10. All members of the Task Force are aware of Maternal Depression and have developed a network to support families.
  11. Over 700 individuals from a multidisciplinary field of professionals are now aware of Maternal Depression issues as a result of the Task Force educational opportunities.
  12. Falmouth Hospital has been having success with a Brazilian woman in the Postpartum Support Group at Falmouth Hospital by having an interpreter in the group.
  13. The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) now screens for PPD at each maternal/child home visit and utilizes the Resource List that the MDTF created as a result of the Task Force’s efforts.
  14. After more than 2 years of advocating for legislation, State Representative Ellen Story’s office announced the House bill No. 4859 (Postpartum Depression Bill) was signed by Governor Deval Patrick and passed into law on August 19, 2010. On January 11, 2011, the Task Force honored Representative Story at the MA State House for her work on the Postpartum Depression Bill. In attendance were many state legislators and representatives from the North Shore Postpartum Depression Task Force, MotherWoman, and Department of Public Health. An article highlighting the event was published in The Barnstable Enterprise on January 21, 2011.
  15. The Task Force applied for and was successful in obtaining a grant in the spring of 2014 to support training and education around Perinatal Mood Disorders through MotherWoman.
  16. 4 Task Force members participated in the MotherWoman Support Group Model training. As a result, there will be a new Postpartum Support Group scheduled to begin in October 2014.
  17. Revised the Maternal Depression Resource List-2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020
  18. A GPS Training was coordinated and held in Hyannis, resulting in several Task Force members being trained in the GPS model in order to start a local support group for postpartum moms.
  19. A Support Group for New Moms began in January 2020 as a result of training and funding provided through the MASS PPD Fund through a grant from the Kelley Foundation.
  20. A Perinatal Loss Forum was held on 1-15-20 at the Barnstable County Complex. Speakers from the Perinatal Loss and Therapy community spoke about their services to professional working with families.
  21. Received a grant (January 2021) from Cape Cod Healthcare Community Benefits to provide a Breastfeeding Support program, a New Moms Support Group, Postpartum Doula Visits, and Baby Bags for new parents free of charge for families.


  1. Formed: November 2005
  2. 1st Forum held: January 2006, Cape Cod Community College: speakers- 3 parents, Ngozi Okunawa (Zero to 3), Nikki Lively (University of Illinois at Chicago)
  3. 2nd Outreach Forum held: March 2007, St. David’s Episcopal Church: speaker- Dr. Deborah Issokson, members of the Task Force, Audience: Multidisciplinary
  4. Developed a Maternal Depression Resource List, which includes prescribing providers, therapists, and support programs on the local and regional level, which is included in both the Professional and Parent Packets.
  5. Developed a Professional Packet of information on the subject of screening, resources, and education on the subject of Maternal Depression. This packet also includes a medical hotline number for prescribing professionals. 340 packets distributed to date.
  6. Developed a Family Packet of information with materials on the subject of self- identification, resources and education on the subject of Maternal Depression. 750 packets distributed to date.
  7. Created a videotape/DVD of the speakers from the 1st Forum. This documentation can be used for educational purposes.
  8. Maternal Depression Mental Health Training Part 1 “Postpartum Mental Health: What Every Provider Needs to Know” held 4/3/08- Speaker: Dr. Deborah Issokson, Audience: 95 Multidisciplinary Mental Health Providers
  9. Recipient of the Department of Mental Health Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award in Public Education on May 6, 2008 at the State House in Boston.
  10. Outreach Forum held: September 27, 2008, Martha’s Vineyard: speakers-Dr. Deborah Issokson, parents who are survivors of PPD, Audience: 35 Multidisciplinary Providers
  11. Maternal Depression Mental Health Training Part 2 “Postpartum Mental Health: What Every Provider Needs to Know” -held 3/11/09- Speaker: Dr. Deborah Issokson, Audience: 23 Multidisciplinary Mental Health Providers
  12. “PDx2: Postpartum Depression and the Pediatrician’s Dilemma” Training held on October 20, 2009- Speaker: Dr. Deborah Issokson, Audience: 20 Multidisciplinary Health Care Providers including Pediatricians.
  13. “PDx2: Postpartum Depression and the Pediatrician’s Dilemma” Training held on 4/28/10- Speakers: Linda Sayers and Kathleen Ecker, Audience: 37 Multidisciplinary Family Support Providers including Family Child Care, Center-Based Child Care, Maternity Nursing, Healthy Families Staff, LMHC Private Practice, Public School Personnel, Parent Educators, and a parent.
  14. “Maternal Depression and the Effects on The Mother-Child Relationship” Training held on 10/21/10- Speakers: Linda Sayers and Kathleen Ecker, Audience: 27 Multidisciplinary Family Support Providers including Family Child Care, Center-Based Child Care, WIC Staff, Community Health Center Staff, Early Intervention Specialists, OB/GYN Staff, Holistic Nutritionist, Itsy Bitsy Yoga Instructor, Lactation Consultants, LICSW, Healthy Families Staff, MSPCC Therapists LMHC Private Practice, Parent Educators, Head Start Staff, and Parent/Child Group Facilitators.
  15. Outreach to Early Intervention staff (25 in audience) on 11/15/10 to discuss the referral process and Triage Chart developed by the Task Force.
  16. “Postpartum Depression-Screening and Treatment Methods for Medical Practitioners” Training held on April 12, 2012-Speaker: Jeanne Watson Driscoll, PhD, RN, BC. Audience: Primary Care physicians, APRN, OB/GYN, LMHC, Psychiatric Nurses, RN’s, Midwives, Doulas, Nursing Students (80 in audience).
  17. Hosted Susan Benjamin Feingold, Psy.D. Author of Happy Endings,New Beginnings for a book reading at the Sandwich Library on June 13, 2013
  18. Hosted MotherWoman Training Institute: Promoting Maternal and Infant Mental Health: The Community-Based Perinatal Support Model for Mothers held on September 17, 2014 at MSPCC, Hyannis. Audience: Multidisciplinary- Nursing. Social Work, Lactation Consultants, Mental Health Providers, Family Support Specialists, Childbirth Educators, Doulas (42 in audience)
  19. Maternal Depression Mental Health Training “Perinatal Emotional Complications: What Every Provider Needs to Know” Training for Mental Health Professionals -held 10/3/15- Speaker: Dr. Deborah Issokson, Audience: 25 Multidisciplinary Mental Health Providers
  20. Trained 22 multidisciplinary individuals in the Group Peer Support -GPS © Facilitators Training model in a 3-day training 10/19/ 10/20, and 10/21/17. The goal is to build capacity of support groups for parents and those with perinatal mood disorders.

Professional Outreach Opportunities

facilitated by members of the Maternal Deppression Task Force on the subject of Maternal Depression:

  1. Falmouth Hospital- Audience: 2 separate meetings- OB admitting to Falmouth Hospital, Pediatricians admitting to Falmouth Hospital
  2. Cape Cod Hospital- Audience: OB/Pedi admitting to Cape Cod Hospital
  3. Department of Social Services- Audience: Assessment Unit/Social Workers
  4. Regional Massachusetts Family Networks- Audience: Family Support Specialists
  5. Early Intervention of the Cape & Islands- Audience: Early Intervention Specialists
  6. Psychiatric Assessment Team (P.A.T.)- Audience: MD/APRN Psychiatric Triage Team
  7. Women’s Health Care Task Force- Audience: 50% Falmouth Hospital Staff (MD/Nursing) and 50% Community Members
  8. Barnstable Father & Family Network- Audience: Professionals working with fathers and their families in a variety of settings in the South East Region of MA.
  9. Local Radio and NPR stations
  10. Articles in the Cape Cod Times
  11. Local Cable Access Interview
  12. South East Regional Forum- Audience: Multidisciplinary and Community Members
  13. DPH Statewide Summit on Maternal and Infant Mental Health: Promoting Family Relationships- Audience: Multidisciplinary
  14. South Bay Mental Health Center-Audience: LSW, LMHC
  15. Presented as a panel member at the DPH Statewide training on Maternal/Infant Relationships on June 3, 2008. Audience: Multidisciplinary
  16. Participated in a legislative meeting concerning drafting legislation around universal screening and other issues around Maternal Depression at the State House on July 22, 2008-Audience; Multidisciplinary and Legislative Members
  17. North Shore Maternal Depression Task Force (see below #7)- Audience: Multidisciplinary
  18. North River Collaborative Maternal Depression Task Force (see below #7)-Audience: Multidisciplinary
  19. Cape Cod Child Development Staff Day-10/08, Audience: Family Workers, Child Care Staff, Early Intervention
  20. Attended Substance Abuse in Pregnancy Task Force meeting to promote resources and the new MotherWoman Support Group-Oct 2014
  21. Beth Israel Deaconess OB/GYN Forestdale Office-2 Task Force members shared information on identification and referral options with the majority of the staff at the office-June 2015
  22. Several members of the Task Force attended PPD Awareness Day at the MA State House representing the Cape & Islands Maternal Depression Task Force-May 2015
  23. (as listed above in #20) Trained 22 multidisciplinary individuals in the Group Peer Support -GPS © Facilitators Training model in a 3-day training 10/19/ 10/20, and 10/21/17. The goal is to build capacity of support groups for parents and those with perinatal mood disorders.


Cape Cod Children’s Place (current Fiscal Agent)
Cape Cod Foundation-Community Benefits Program
Kelly Foundation
Bilezikian Foundation
Cape Cod Community College
VNA of Cape Cod
Cape Cod Hospital
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC
Northside Methodist Church
St. David’s Episcopal Church
Trader Joe’s
PB Boulangerie
Cape Cod Organic Farm
Bass River Pediatrics
Cape Cod Family Resource Center
Cape Cod Healthy Families
Cape Cod Healthcare
Mid Cape/D-Y CFCE/Cape Cod Children’s Place
Local radio stations and news outlets
Mass Post PPD Fund and Kelley Foundation
Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation Community Benefits

Contact Us

Cape Cod Children’s Place: 508-240-3310
Kerry McCarthy/Coordinator:

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