Parental Depression: Impact on Families and Children

CONCORD - March 31, 2014 - The subject matter may have been a little dark but the conversation was so necessary to help us improve our abilities to assist families in building the five Strengthening Families Protective Factors.
Over 200 parents and professionals braved an icy commute from 8:30 am to 4 pm for the 3rd Annual Strengthening Families Summit addressing Parental Depression: Impacts on Families and Children. A key goal was helping participants not only with understanding the "what" of depression and anxiety, but also the "what now" - how to work with parents and their children to encourage treatment, optimize bonding and attachment, promote healthy child development and parent effectively
During the opening ceremony, we were honored for facilitating the Period of PURPLE Crying in New Hampshire. Because of our successful integration of the infant abuse prevention education into birthing hospitals, a visit by Julie Price, of the National Center of Shaken Baby Syndrome launched us as "program," no longer simply an "initiative." The Period of PURPLE Crying builds the Protective Factor: Knowledge of Child Development, helping parents understand prolonged infant crying is a period most babies go through. In addition, a parent suffering from depression may be more likely to succumb to the stress of infant crying.
Following Julie's plaque presentation, our Executive Director Keryn Bernard-Kriegl and DHHS's Heidi Petzold warmly welcomed attendees and keynote speaker, Dr. Robert Ammerman. Ammerman is Professor of Pediatrics (Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology) at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and the Scientific Director of Every Child Succeeds.
In three sessions of four workshop choices attendees honed their skills involving easing parental depression and general education on parental depression and the Protective Factors.

Attendees said they learned...

"PPD affects 15% of women - But, post-partum depression affects dads, too."
"How to strengthen families and empower them to prevent child abuse and increase support to help with depression."
"That parent/ provider relationships need to be a collaborative effort to best support a child’s healthy development."
Mild to moderate maternal depression and anxiety is common in postpartum women, but these "baby blue" tend to be temporary and often resolve on their own, particularly among women with strong support systems. When disturbances in mood are severe, chronic or long-lasting, however, the impacts on children and partners can be devastating. Depression and/or anxiety in either parent can hinder the strong, positive parent-child attachments and bonding that provides the foundation for healthy child development, further eroding the protective factors. The presence of depression or anxiety can compromise the effectiveness of other family strengthening services, too; a hallmark of depression is a lack of interest, energy, engagement and hope for the future.
Many child and family serving professionals across New Hampshire are not treatment specialists or clinicians, but they do need to understand the symptoms, effects and physical and behavioral impacts of depression and anxiety in parents and on their children. 
Attendees say they came because...
"Many of the families I work with are either depressed or have many risk factors."
"To gain better understanding of Strengthening Families Framework."
"Interested in increasing skills around working with depressed families"
97% of 2014 attendees reported that they enjoyed the conference
Not able to make it this year? Here's a list of some presenters' presentations and materials.

2014 Summit Program Sponsors