Postpartum Depression Legislation Becomes the Law of the Land!!

Tonight’s historic passage of Healthcare Reform also makes history for America’s mothers as language from The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act becomes LAW!!!

Finally, the plight of millions of American women, infants and families has been acknowledged and the tide forever turned! With this long sought federal mandate, states will find more support for PPD programs, researchers will find funding encouragement to continue their search for etiology and cure, and communities will harken to respond to this unmet need. Grants will be made available to fund a variety of entities and programs charged with caring for women suffering from postpartum depression.

There are no words to express our collective gratitude to the following individuals who began this march oh so long ago. Each step was filled with conviction, tears, controversy, guts, belief, outrage, setbacks and hope. And tonight, we can all begin to feel that at long last the doors and hearts of America are open to the maternal suffering that may no longer be silent and stigmatized.

To U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, you are an unwavering champion of the women and infants you represent. Against all odds, you never once set aside this initiative. You are not the Senator from New Jersey, you are the Senator of America’s mothers.

To NJ Senate President Richard Codey and the courageous Mary Jo – beloved by all for taking on the most difficult role of her life – with your example, your stigma busting campaign and your groundbreaking state legislation, you set the bar for our nation to follow. “Speak Up When You’re Down” she said. And women have not been silent since.

To Congressman Bobby L. Rush, who brought the House to its feet with near unanimous consensus and forceful leadership on this issue, your unfaltering crusade has led us to this moment. Without your work, your belief, our voices would still be murmurs of closeted shame. You are the change you sought, you live the life you lead others to believe in.

And to Carol Blocker, who has walked a million miles to share her story of incomprehensible heartache so that others might be spared excruciating loss, know that Melanie Blocker Stokes lives not only in the eyes of Somer Skyye, but in every program and community which will safeguard their mothers. We Thank God for Carol’s advocacy.

Each one of us is aligned with one or all of these heroes. Be it through motherhood, fatherhood, childhood, advocacy, organizational and individual support, a foundation born of tragedy, experience, research, blogging, writing, singing, creating, art, music, medicine, psychology, non profit leadership, endurance, courage, community action or voices in unison, you have all indeed made a life saving difference.

And for every mother and child lost to this illness…every square on Postpartum Support International’s Memory Quilt…. read each year by PSI’s Founder Jane Honikman…you are not forgotten and your life continues to infuse helping, caring spirit throughout the community of motherhood.

To every person who signed the petition, know that your signature was seen; that it carried weight. From Congressional offices to Qunnipiac pollsters, the petition was read and referenced again and again. You fearlessly listed your names, dared to make your stand known, and said, Enough is Enough. You have won. Thank you for your virtual presence, your letters, your phone calls, your support, your persistence.

Below is the language included in tonight’s Senate Bill which will now become law. Note that it does NOT mandate screening OR subsidize medication. The breadth and depth of the services encouraged and supported by its initiatives open the door to programs from concrete services to help new mothers, to education, public awareness and support, research and access to treatment.

When we began this journey, we did so with the acknowledgement that the experience of motherhood is apolitical, universal in its reach. Tonight, let that shared love and reverence reach above political differences and prevail in this celebration of life-saving victory for America’s mother, infants and families.

(1) EXPANSION AND INTENSIFICATION OF ACTIVITIES.—The Secretary of Health and Human Services
(in this subsection and subsection (c) referred to as
the ‘‘Secretary’’) is encouraged to continue activities
on postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis
(in this subsection and subsection (c) referred to as
‘‘postpartum conditions’’), including research to expand the understanding of the causes of, and treatments for, postpartum conditions. Activities under this paragraph shall include conducting and supporting the following:
(A) Basic research concerning the etiology
and causes of the conditions.
(B) Epidemiological studies to address the
frequency and natural history of the conditions
and the differences among racial and ethnic
groups with respect to the conditions.
(C) The development of improved screening
and diagnostic techniques.
(D) Clinical research for the development
and evaluation of new treatments.
(E) Information and education programs
for health care professionals and the public,
which may include a coordinated national campaign to increase the awareness and knowledge of postpartum conditions. Activities under such a national campaign may—
(i) include public service announce
ments through television, radio, and other
means; and
(ii) focus on—
(I) raising awareness about
(II) educating new mothers and
their families about postpartum conditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment; and
(III) ensuring that such education
includes complete information concerning postpartum conditions, including its symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources.
(A) SENSE OF CONGRESS.—It is the sense of
Congress that the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health may conduct a nationally representative longitudinal study (during the period of fiscal years 2010 through 2019) of the relative mental health consequences for women of resolving a pregnancy (intended and unintended) in various ways, including carrying the pregnancy to term and parenting the child, carrying the pregnancy to term and placing the child for adoption, miscarriage, and having an abortion. This study may assess the incidence, timing, magnitude, and duration of the immediate and long-term mental health consequences (positive or negative) of these pregnancy outcomes.
(B) REPORT.—Subject to the completion of
the study under subsection (a), beginning not
later than 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, and periodically thereafter for the duration of the study, such Director may prepare and submit to the Congress reports on the findings of the study.
Title V of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 701 et seq.),as amended by section 2951, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—In addition to any other pay
ments made under this title to a State, the Secretary may make grants to eligible entities for projects for the establishment, operation, and coordination of effective and cost-efficient systems for the delivery of essential services to individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions and their families.
‘‘(b) CERTAIN ACTIVITIES.—To the extent practicable and appropriate, the Secretary shall ensure that projects funded under subsection (a) provide education and services
with respect to the diagnosis and management of postpartum conditions for individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions and their families. The Secretary may allow such projects to include the following:
‘‘(1) Delivering or enhancing outpatient and
home-based health and support services, including case management and comprehensive treatment services.
‘‘(2) Delivering or enhancing inpatient care
management services that ensure the well-being of the mother and family and the future development of the infant.
‘‘(3) Improving the quality, availability, and or
ganization of health care and support services (including transportation services, attendant care, homemaker services, day or respite care, and providing counseling on financial assistance and insurance).
‘‘(4) Providing education about postpartum con
ditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment. Such education may include—
‘‘(A) providing complete information on
postpartum conditions, symptoms, methods of
coping with the illness, and treatment resources; and
‘‘(B) in the case of a grantee that is a State,
hospital, or birthing facility—
‘‘(i) providing education to new moth
ers and fathers, and other family members
as appropriate, concerning postpartum con24
ditions before new mothers leave the health
facility; and
(ii) ensuring that training programs
regarding such education are carried out at the health facility.
‘‘(c) INTEGRATION WITH OTHER PROGRAMS.—To the extent practicable and appropriate, the Secretary may integrate the grant program under this section with other grant programs carried out by the Secretary, including the program under section 330 of the Public Health Service Act.
‘‘(d) REQUIREMENTS.—The Secretary shall establish requirements for grants made under this section that in clude a limit on the amount of grants funds that may be used for administration, accounting, reporting, or program oversight functions and a requirement for each eligible entity that receives a grant to submit, for each grant period, a report to the Secretary that describes how grant funds
were used during such period.
‘‘(e) TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE.—The Secretary may provide technical assistance to entities seeking a grant under this section in order to assist such entities in complying with the requirements of this section.
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), the other provisions of this title shall not apply to a grant made under this section.

‘(2) EXCEPTIONS.—The following provisions of
this title shall apply to a grant made under this section to the same extent and in the same manner as such provisions apply to allotments made under section 502(c):
‘‘(A) Section 504(b)(6) (relating to prohibition on payments to excluded individuals and
‘(B) Section 504(c) (relating to the use of
funds for the purchase of technical assistance).
‘‘(C) Section 504(d) (relating to a limitation on administrative expenditures).
‘‘(D) Section 506 (relating to reports and
audits), but only to the extent determined by the Secretary to be appropriate for grants made
under this section.
‘‘(E) Section 507 (relating to penalties for
false statements).
‘‘(F) Section 508 (relating to nondiscrimination).
‘‘(G) Section 509(a) (relating to the administration of the grant program).
‘‘(g) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:
‘‘(1) The term ‘eligible entity’—
‘‘(A) means a public or nonprofit private
entity; and
‘‘(B) includes a State or local government,
public-private partnership, recipient of a grant
under section 330H of the Public Health Service
Act (relating to the Healthy Start Initiative),
public or nonprofit private hospital, community based organization, hospice, ambulatory care facility, community health center, migrant health center, public housing primary care center, or homeless health center.
‘‘(2) The term ‘postpartum condition’ means
postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.’’.
carry out this section and the amendment made by subsection (b), there are authorized to be appropriated, in addition to such other sums as may be available for such purpose—
(A) $3,000,000 for fiscal year 2010; and
(B) such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
(A) STUDY.—The Secretary shall conduct a
study on the benefits of screening for postpartum conditions.
(B) REPORT.—Not later than 2 years after
the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall complete the study required by sub paragraph (A) and submit a report to the Congress on the results of such study.

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21 Responses to Postpartum Depression Legislation Becomes the Law of the Land!!

  1. D.A. GRAY says:

    God be thanked, “One long-awaited step realized for what should have been women, children and families’ rights to all aspects of quality medical care all along”. I am so thankful to have seen this become a reality from its inception to rally cry; from small town to the biggest court in the land; from prisoner to grants for clemency; from small ideas to big TV shows – all displaying the incredible family hardships experienced when no medical help comes, to bring us to this day. “Let us not lose ground nor hope for future gain; let us not despair but forge onward and beyond; let us each stay strong in this precious gain for all, Past, Present and to-be(s).” Keep in mind that this is just the first battle won and yes, now is the time to volunteer to work inside the re-writing of the current DSM – for only there shall we truly win the war for all of society, domestic and abroad. AAMF.

  2. Shirley Halvorson says:

    Thanks to Carol for the hard work and Susan for keeping us on our toes. It will be a great asset for our moms and moms to be. I wish it were so in the 1980’s.

  3. THANK YOU, thank you, thank you from the bottom of the heart of every Survivor Mama in the land!

  4. maria zeitz says:

    Thank-you all so much from San Antonio, Texas. This will open doors for many mothers and those who help and love them. Hope has flooded my heart. I will keep all you in prayer.

  5. Lisa Jeli says:

    This is great news, and it is just the beginning. I am thinking also of all the women and children who were lost to this illness and the lives that have been altered due to the suffering. This is for them as well.

  6. Laura Primis says:

    This is so so wonderful! I was so excited about the passing of the new health care bill in general and now this makes it that much better. What a glorious day! Thank you for all those who worked and continue to work tirelessly for this cause!

  7. Leslie W. Tam, MD says:

    I am thrilled. As a reproductive psychiatrist, I see the suffering caused by postpartum conditions every day. Thanks to everyone involved for their advocacy and leadership!!!

  8. Helen Jones says:

    What incredible news! Thank you to Susan for keeping us informed and to everyone who made this possible. It is a giant step forward.

  9. Ivy says:

    I can’t tell you how thrilled I am about this amazingly wonderful–not to mention–historical accomplishment! Significant progress at last! Susan, thank you for all your dedication to helping women and their families. Thank you for your efforts in helping to make this happen! This will make such a positive difference for so many mothers and their families!

  10. I am so happy….This is wonderful news, and I pause to think of the mothers and families who suffered and did not receive the help they so desperately needed. This is for all of those who suffer in silence, may their suffering be relieved.

  11. Well done to everyone involved!

    I hope we can get more action in the UK too.

  12. Lorraine Caputo says:

    I am ecstatic! Really, I am dancing around my office! Thank you to Susan and everyone who has worked so hard on this very important piece of legislation.

  13. Asuncion Lara says:

    Congratulations. This sets a good examples for other countries, like Mexico, where I live.

  14. Melissa says:

    This is such wonderful news! Thanks to all who made this happen!
    Now it’s up to us to get postpartum mood disorders recognized in the DSM…

  15. This is so amazing and wonderful! I couldn’t help but shed tears of joy and also think about the women who didn’t get the help they needed. This bill is for them in many ways, I’m sure.

    Thank you to all who have worked so hard and courageously to see this day come to pass! You are heroes!

  16. Liz Friedman says:

    I was holding my breath last night and when I awoke this morning only one question was in my mind: did the mother’s act make it in to the final legislation? I am ecstatic beyond words! Congratulations to all who worked towards making this legislation a reality!! The world is changed for mothers and our families forever.

    with such gratitude,
    Liz Friedman

  17. Susan,
    Thanks for all your hard work over these past few years!! Thanks for your advocacy, tenacity, and never giving up hope!! What a day for women and families!!.
    You make us all proud.

  18. Susan – Thank you for all of your advocacy efforts! Thank you to everyone who played a part in advocating for this important legislation.

  19. dickens3927 says:

    That goes for you, too Katherine and Sylvia and all our fellow supporters/bloggers who have beaten the drum for years!!! Susan

  20. Way to go Susan, Carol, Sen. Menendez, Rep. Rush and everyone else who worked so hard for this!

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