Although many public assistance recipients suffer from depression, few receive consistent treatment. This report presents 36-month results from a random assignment evaluation of a one-year program that provided telephonic care management to encourage depressed parents, who were Medicaid recipients in Rhode Island, to seek treatment from mental health professionals. Called “Working toward Wellness” (WtW), the program represents one of four strategies being studied in the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project to improve employment for low-income parents who face serious barriers to employment. The project is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the Department of Labor.
This report focuses on assessing the success of the program’s efforts to improve depression symptoms and work-related outcomes, two years after the end of the intervention. In WtW, master’s-level clinicians (“care managers”) telephoned the study participants in the program group to encourage them to seek treatment, to make sure that they were complying with treatment, and to provide telephonic counseling. The effects of the program are being studied by examining 499 depressed Medicaid recipients with children; these parents were randomly assigned to either the program group or the control group from November 2004 to October 2006.