Many mothers—especially those with low incomes—struggle with depression and social isolation. Western Mass MOMS is designed to reduce depressive symptoms, improve social connections, and promote employment among caregivers. Viability, a local nonprofit social service provider, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) is implementing Western Mass MOMS in Springfield and Holyoke, Massachusetts. We hope that this program will make major differences in caregivers’ lives!
Western Mass MOMS is being implemented as part of a study called the Next Generation of Enhanced Employment Strategies (NextGen) Project. This study is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Social Security Administration.
Your clients may be eligible for the study if they:
- Identify as a woman or nonbinary
- Are age 18 or older
- Are pregnant or care for a child who is under 18 (they do not need to be a mother)
- Live in Springfield/Holyoke or surrounding towns.
To participate in Western Mass MOMS, the participants will need to meet some other eligibility criteria related to their income, receipt of disability benefits, and their depressive symptoms. MOMS staff will check whether the applicant meets those criteria. If women you refer are found ineligible for Western Mass MOMS, they will still be given referrals to other agencies and a $25 gift card for attending the enrollment interview.
- The MOMS Stress Management Course: Participants will be able to attend classes with others facing similar challenges where they can learn skills to manage stress. The course is based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Studies have shown that this therapy is effective in helping people manage stress and depression.Child supervision is available for in person stress management class attendance.
- Assistance with progressing in careers. If the participant is interested and ready, MOMS staff will provide advice, resources, and services to help participants meet their career goals. This could include thinking about careers, signing up for an education course, finding training, finding a job, and dealing with work stressors.
- Financial supports: Participants will receive $25 for attending the enrollment interview and for each Stress Management Course class attended.
- Access to supports in the community: Program staff will help participants determine their goals and what gets in the way of meeting those goals. They will connect participants to services and resources.
- The program is offered in both Spanish and English
All applicants will get information, verbally and in writing, about what happens if they participate in the study. They will also have the chance to ask questions before they consent to participate in it. An automated process will randomly assign consenting applicants to either a MOMS Group who will be offered a place in Western Mass MOMS or into a Community Referrals Group who will be offered referrals to other services in the community. There is a 50/50 chance of being offered a place in Western Mass MOMS.
The study is designed to benefit all participants. No one will experience harm by participating. All participants will either be offered a place in Western Mass MOMS or offered referrals for other services in the community. Any study participant may withdraw from the study at any time. An independent Institutional Review Board as well as three federal agencies approved the study design.
Study participants will be asked to complete two follow-up surveys; they will receive a gift card as a token of appreciation for responding to each follow-up survey.
By participating in the study, all participants will be able to inform the discussion about how best to serve caregivers with depressive symptoms.
Recruitment for the study will begin in mid-March 2022. The study is expected to last for about two years.