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Every day, hundreds of sick and injured patients walk into free and charitable clinics around the Tampa Bay area in need of a doctor.Many are suffering from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Some patients were referred to the clinics by staff at hospitals where they landed after years of neglecting to care for treatable conditions.The clinics allow the patients to pay what they can, or nothing at all. They are staffed by doctors and nurses who volunteer their time. They survive off donations and small grants.Many of the patients have jobs but they are living paycheck to paycheck. None have health insurance, either because they do not qualify for Medicaid or can’t afford private coverage. For these patients, the clinics are often their only option for primary care.

Perinatal Mental Health Awareness Week Underlines Pregnancy-Associated Disorders

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Credit Lauren DePaola's Perinatal Mental Health presentation

This week is Perinatal Mental Health Awareness Week. Officials want to make people more aware of one of the top health complications surrounding pregnancy.

Lauren DePaola is a licensed clinical social worker in Gainesville and the Founder and CEO of Postpartum Wellness and Family Counseling.

“I am a professional as well as a wife and a mother, who experienced some symptoms along the perinatal, mood, and anxiety disorder spectrum, and so, I always like to come from that perspective,” she said, during a recent presentation to the Florida Youth and Children's Cabinet.

And, she says perinatal mental health is Florida’s largest reproductive health issue. It can include postpartum depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

“So, when we talk about perinatal, we talk about both mom and fetus and baby and anytime, during pregnancy, leading up to pregnancy, and anytime leading up to that post-partum, that full year,” she added.

DePaola says it’s very important for people, especially women, to know these conditions are treatable and recognize the risk factors. To get that accomplished, she hopes a task force can be created to develop recommendations and an official Perinatal Mental Health Awareness Month can be declared in Florida.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner .

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