May was a very busy month for activities related to the advancement of our federal PPD Legislation and PPD Awareness. The month began with the Valley Hospital Press Conference (see previous post) in which U.S. Senator Robert Menendez again affirmed his dedicated committment to pass the legislation this year, noting its alignment with this administration’s focus on healthcare reform.
As an invited speaker, my comments praised both the unfailing efforts of Senator Menendez and those of community healthcare professionals who work with new mothers and families saving lives every day through their compassionate expertise.
The petition that all of you have supported was given to the Senator to pass along to members of the H.E.L.P. committee where the bill currently awaits mark up. The petition has already expanded again and we will keep it going until the bill reaches the full senate floor!
Apparently actress Kirstie Alley, the loving mother of two adopted children and a noted Scientologist, publicly proclaimed her opposition to the legislation. I am hoping that because her statements were based on the same misinformation being circulated by some groups of dubious intent, she may change her mind if she or her staff/publicist reads the bill! Kirstie, you can read the bill in its entirety right here at PerinatalPro.Com
Your followers on Twitter will appreciate your willingness to thoroughly investigate such claims!
So a timely opportunity to address these misrepresentations was gladly accepted when Dr. Shoshana Bennett invited me to participate with her on Dr. William Thornton’s national radio show called “Natural Health”. You can listen to the program by clicking here. Dr. Thornton’s show has thousands of listeners and will air again next Monday at 9 AM PST and during other time slots at stations across the country (and internationally) throughout the next few weeks.
My statements focus directly on the baseless fears being generated by those who are desperate to slow the quickening pace of enormous support for the The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act! Talk about further shaming mothers who may need medication to recover!! This misguided campaign serves to keep our nation’s mothers closeted in fear and relies on misrepresentations to do so! Where is the prosocial conscience when it comes to respecting women’s rights to choose their own treatment plans? Where is the goal of protecting mothers and advancing the opportunities to receive help for these common disorders?
Note the wide range of services that this bill will fund!! Initiatives like public awareness campaigns, education and research that could PREVENT or REDUCE the incidence of untreated maternal mood disorders. How could anyone who has ever known a mother suffering from such illnesses possibly object to that? There is NO MANDATED screening and the bill has NO ASSOCIATION WITH MEDICATION, nor would the bill fund or subsidize medication!
Indeed WITHOUT the passage of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, our treatment options may remain narrow and we will continue to encounter needless suffering, tragedies and maternal child emergencies because mothers and families – still in the dark about the possibility of maternal illness – will wait too long to seek help.
Both public and non profit entities will be eligible to submit programs for funding consideration! The provisions of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act will widen rather than reduce choice of treatments and resources to combat these disorders.
Also this month, The Department of Health and Senior Services in New Jersey, in conjunction with the Hudson Perinatal Consortium headed by Mariann Moore, LCSW, presented their annual state-wide conference “On the Forefront of Perinatal Mood Disorders”. The goal of the conference was to further the education of the large audience of healthcare providers by presenting the latest research, treatments and resources in maternal mental health.
In addition, the growing successes of Former New Jersey First Lady Mary Jo Codey’s “Speak Up When You’re Down Campaign” were showcased along with emphasis on the life saving promises of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. Speakers included Meg Spinelli, MD, Cheryl Beck, DNS, Andrea Braverman, MD (who spoke about the association of infertility with PPD), myself and others. Sylvia Lasalandra generously donated hundreds of her acclaimed book, A Daughter’s Touch. A panel of ppd survivors moderated by Former New Jersey First Lady Mary Jo Codey rounded out the day.
Sarah Lee Kessler, an Emmy Award winning journalist from NJN, the Public Television network of New Jersey, covered the conference and created a news segment based on New Jersey’s successful initiatives and The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. The news story features public service announcements created for the NJ Speak Up Campaign and segments from interviews with Mary Jo Codey, myself and others associated with the conference.
This powerful piece can be seen by clicking here and will remain on U Tube indefinitely.
Just this morning, I completed an interview with Parenting Magazine, which plans to feature an article about the nation’s first inpatient maternal mental health unit at UNC, Chapel Hill, NC, as well as focus on the federal legislation and how this bill might help fund other such programs across the country. And this month’s Expectant Mother’s Guide – to be released next week – will offer a PPD Q and A by myself which also addresses the role of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act in creating more awareness among new mothers and their families.
The National Association of Social Workers also highlighted the federal ppd legislation by featuring my work in their May issue of national publication NASW News called “Social Work in the Public Eye”.
Finally, I humbly announce that I will be honored by the Mental Health Association in New Jersey at an event on June 10th for advocacy and clinical work related to national ppd initiatives. While it is somewhat uncomfortable to receive singular recognition when so many are working towards the same end, we sure can’t pass up any opportunity to speak or write about The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. I will accept the award on behalf of EVERY ONE OF YOU who continues to support this effort and the mothers who are praying that this life-saving legislation passes THIS YEAR!!
There are now 500 additional signatures waiting to be posted to the online petition over the weekend. Please continue to ask those committed to this cause to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org (including their name, state and credentials) giving permission to be added to the national petition whose endorsing organizations and individuals represent over a million constituents.
The updated listings can be seen here. Thanks to all of you for your ongoing support and kind messages of encouragement, you are keepers of the flame!