Mary Jo Codey is the former First Lady of New Jersey and a survivor of postpartum depression. Her husband is NJ State Senate President Richard Codey, former Acting Governor (twice) of New Jersey. Few couples in the political arena have done so much to highlight mental health issues and advocate for reform, awareness and reduction of stigma. Together, they brought our nation’s first state mandate about postpartum depression education, assessment, screening and training of healthcare professionals to New Jersey, legislation which is being considered and replicated across the country.
Mary Jo Codey was the first national political figure to share her story of postpartum depression with a nation that had turned a deaf ear to the suffering of many of its mothers. For her public revelations of two postpartum depressions, she awakened compassion and legions of supporters, but also endured public scrutiny and criticism from those who held only one standard for postpartum moms…. wellness, fulfillment and joy. This seemed to only further her resolve; Mary Jo stayed the course with the support of her loving husband and family. Often her speeches brought tears of recognition from those who had suffered, but had no name for their shattering experiences. But eventually, her efforts resulted in the creation of our country’s FIRST program for families suffering from postpartum depression, Speak Up When You’re Down.
This program inspired healthcare professionals to learn more about these disorders, initiated a help hotline for mothers and families to call, offered a provider resource, and most importantly, her public service announcements gave many despairing mothers the impetus to reach out for help. If Mary Jo Codey could stand up to a nation and acknowledge her experience, maybe there was hope for them too.
Mary Jo Codey is now asking you to support The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. Here is her letter to you.
In 2004, when my husband was appointed acting governor for the state of New Jersey, I didn’t have to talk my husband into introducing legislation that would not only help women, but save the lives of women , babies and families suffering with this unforgiving illness called postpartum depression. Richard lived the pain with me. He saw the destruction this illness caused the entire family.
The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS ACT will ensure that ALL women and their families are educated about postpartum depression. It would also provide research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression. This bill will tell ALL women that they no longer have to suffer in shame or silence if they are confronted with feelings of depression during and after the birth of their newborn.
Now is the time to join me and help pass this critical legislation. Please show your support and sensitivity towards an issue that is so dear to my heart by adding your name today.
Mary Jo Codey
Former First Lady, State of New Jersey
Please endorse this critical legislation by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, state and any credentials or affiliations you have. The list will be sent to every Senator the week of MOTHERS Day.