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Illinois program addresses depression.

Dr. Robert T. London invited readers to let him know what we think of depression screening and a possible expanded role for primary care physicians in identifying, treating, and referring patients ("Identifying Depression: We Must Do More," The Psychiatrist's Toolbox, November 2005, p. 25).

To that end, I would like to call readers' attention to a successful Illinois program that accomplishes that within a perinatal population.

The Illinois Perinatal Depression Project trains prenatal and primary care providers to screen, assess, and treat women with depression during pregnancy and post partum. To date, the project has trained more than 2,000 providers since its inception in November 2004.

A key component of its success is the perinatal depression consult service. Health care providers can call a toll-free telephone number (800-573-6121) or access a Web site ( to ask questions about screening, assessing, and treating their patients with perinatal depression. The line, staffed by University of Illinois at Chicago-based women's mental health experts, allows easy access to backup consultation.

With this, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services began reimbursing providers for depression screening, and posting screening tools and treatment guidelines on its Web site. Given the dearth of mental health professionals and the fact that many more people with depression see primary health care professionals, this system greatly expands provider capacity to detect and treat depression.

This service is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Michael Reese Health Trust.

Thanks for calling this important issue to the attention of your readers!

Laura Miller, M.D.


Dr. London replies:

Thank you for your thoughtful and informative letter about my depression screening column. I am thrilled to pass along the information you shared about the Illinois Perinatal Depression Project. It sounds nothing short of superb--and long overdue.

I am impressed by the high number of primary care physicians the Illinois project has trained in a relatively short time. It's also exciting to think about the hundreds of women who have been helped by this proactive approach.

As we know, depression alone or as a comorbidity takes a tremendous toll on patients--and their loved ones. More states need to take the kinds of steps initiated in Illinois toward addressing this devastating illness.

Again, I appreciate your taking the time to share this information with our readers.
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Title Annotation:LETTERS
Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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