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Congress Passes Postpartum Depression Legislation That Will Change Your Life for the Better

Silhouette of sad teenage girl looking out the window on a cold autumn day

This article is part of the Here. Now. essay series, which seeks to de-stigmatize mental health treatment, and improve accessibility to treatment and support for teens and parents in metropolitan New York. 

Did you realize that over 400,000 women in the U.S. suffer from postpartum depression every year? That’s a lot of people. What’s even worse is the fact that only 15% percent of those moms get treatment. That means many moms go untreated–and struggle alone.

Thankfully, the federal government is finally getting a hint, because now they are offering hope for the future of maternal mental health in the U.S. On November 30, Rep. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.) announced that her maternal mental health legislation, the Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act, passed in the House of Representatives. That following Wednesday, it passed in the Senate. This is awesome.

The bill authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide federal grants to states for the purpose of screening, assessing and treating PPD. The grants also would enable states to create, improve or maintain programs around maternal mental health. Clark told The Huffington Post how it’s been long overdue:

“As a mom of three boys, I know how rewarding, as well as how overwhelming and exhausting, a new baby can be. Moms comprise fewer than a fifth of Congress, so it’s especially important for us to bring these perspectives into policymaking. I introduced this bill because our moms need to know they matter ― that we, as a nation, value them and will fight for the health and success of their families.

We need policies that treat mental health and physical health with equal importance. When one in seven moms suffers from postpartum depression and only 15 percent get help, it’s clear our moms are underserved.”

The Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act passed in the House and Senate as part of H.R. 34, the 21st Century Cures Act. The legislation also will offer federal funding to train health care providers to screen and treat mothers. Obviously, focusing parental mental health means that U.S. citizens are happier and healthier, which can only benefit the country as a whole, as Clark points out:

“These are moms who suffer from the pain and isolation that come with postpartum depression, and they shouldn’t feel like they’re on their own. We know that children do better in school and in social situations when their moms get the treatment they need for postpartum depression.

Women’s health ― including reproductive and maternal health ― needs to be part of Congress’ long term strategy for the health and success of our families.”

The numbers suggest that we know someone with PPD–and many of these people who are your friends, mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters–are suffering alone. My own mother suffered alone for a long time before she received help, and that’s just not enough. We have to break the cycle. Now we can.


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This post is part of the Here.Now series, which seeks to destigmatize mental health,
and is made possible by UJA-Federation
of New York and The Jewish Board.
You can find other educational mental health resources here.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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