Even as healthcare reform dominates the national legislative agenda, constituents all across America continue to write and send their signatures in support of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. This welcome continuation and expression of approval is a direct result of the public’s growing awareness of the prolific consequences of untreated maternal depression and the lack of past response that continues suffering.
Such positive and proactive awareness has been spawned by program development at the local community, state and federal level responding to maternal child health issues from many perspectives. Non profits including Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, The March of Dimes, The What to Expect Foundation, Postpartum Support International, Give an Hour, to name but a few, are joining forces with each other and major television networks like CBS and ABC, other cable networks, documentary producers and professional organizations to SHARE KNOWLEDGE, pool resources, spread awareness and comprehensively attack the issue of untreated maternal depression.
This inspirational and unprecedented convergence of forces has brought a long sought momentum to our issue that includes, but is not limited to; support for federal legislation, support and funding of maternal child wellness programs, course development at the graduate level which includes perinatal mood disorders, publication of new books specifically written to address this issue, research to determine etiology and treatment of these illnesses, inclusion of perinatal mood disorders in major medical conferences and workshops, funding for the training of professionals and family awareness programs, early detection and identification programs, innovative outreach through partnerships with technology and public health, websites devoted to the eradication of these illnesses and many other impressively creative public/private partnerships designed to end the suffering and normalize the treatable experience of perinatal mood disorders.
Paradoxically, support for The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act and maternal depression has also been stimulated by articles meant to discourage endorsement. Many of these articles fail to post a copy of the bill along with their comments, fearing the readers access to its clearly stated initiatives – which do not include medication or mandated screening – would quickly expose unfounded bias.
These same articles proclaim that treatment for postpartum depression consists of coersive medication instead of responsibly offering information on the full range of treatments which include exercise, vitamins, massage, light therapy, yoga, Omega 3 oils, better sleep and nutrition, more social support, counseling, cognitive therapy, and when needed, medication. Denying the existence of such illnesses or condemning medication if needed, further shames the agony of sufferers and irresponsibly ignores life threatening risk.
Many of the petitions recent signers have been directed to this website and others by the bill’s detractors, where they subsequently receive the facts and can read the bill. So all discourse continues to be welcome!
Each week, I will begin highlighting a featured program which has seriously impacted our fight against maternal depression. It may be a community based service, blog, nonprofit or professional organization. It could be a product, service or idea. It could be a media outlet, national network or legislative initiative at the community, state or federal level. It may be a faith based program or lecture series. But all will share the commitment and goal of ending maternal infant suffering through programs that bring awareness, education, treatment and services to the mental health issues our mothers face.
Meanwhile, your signature on the national petition endorses the programs, services and outreach needed to eradicate these disorders along with your support for the bill! New organizational or individual endorsements are welcome! Just email me firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, (organization) state and affiliation. Visit the growing list of supporters at www.perinatalpro.com
The crucial stakeholders including mothers, families, advocates and healthcare providers have been awakened to the devastation of untreated perinatal depression and the tide irreversibly turned as our mission is now shared by many powerful allies able to shape our healthcare response to maternal depression in the decades to come.