According to Congress,
- the U.S. suffers from one of the highest maternal death rates in the developed world
- suicide and overdose have been identified as the leading causes of death during the first year postpartum
- depression is the most common complication of pregnancy in the first year postpartum
To help address these issues, Congress provided $3 million to establish and maintain a maternal mental health hotline to be staffed by qualified counselors, 24 hours a day. Funding may also be used for outreach to raise awareness about maternal mental health issues and the hotline. The cost of the hotline is less than 75 cents per new mother.
Congress also approved $5 million for an ongoing program that provides grants to states to address maternal mental health. This program was launched in 2018 and provides funding for five years to seven states (Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont). Each state is working to:
- educate frontline providers, such as obstetricians and pediatricians, about maternal mental health conditions so they can screen and treat their patients;
- provide real-time psychiatric consultation to the frontline providers for more complex cases;
- provide resources and referrals for affected women and families.
Finally, Congress requested the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to produce a report detailing how HHS agencies are addressing gaps in maternal mental health.
MMHLA expects that the President will sign this package into law before the New Year.