WASHINGTON, DC -- March 14, 2022
Assistant Speaker of the House of Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), and Young Kim (R-CA) and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Into the Light for Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Act of 2022 in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. This bipartisan bill will reauthorize and expand Maternal Mental Health Screening and Treatment grants so states can create programs to address maternal health and substance use disorders and establish permanent funding for the national 24/7 voice and text maternal mental health hotline.
“The health and success of families begins with our moms, and we are leaving too many without the care and support they need. Despite incredibly high rates of mental health issues during pregnancy, 75% of mothers never get treatment – that ends now,” Assistant Speaker Clark said. “The Into the Light Act provides permanent mental health resources to moms across the country, from a 24/7 voice and text hotline to improved screening and treatment programs. Passing this legislation is an important step toward ensuring that no mom will suffer alone.”
“It’s staggering to know that about 800,000 new moms in the U.S. each year experience a maternity-related mental health issue. As co-founder of the bipartisan Maternity Care Caucus, we worked to combat this issue in 2020 by advancing the first-ever Maternal Mental Health Hotline to provide 24-hour a day voice and text support to those in a mental health crisis. That’s why I’m pleased to support this critical legislation which will build upon those efforts and further enhance access to mental health resources and screenings for moms across the country,” Congresswoman Herrera Beutler said.
“Maternal mental health conditions are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth and have only been exacerbated by the stress and isolation that has accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Into the Light Act will reauthorize and expand a grant program to screen and treat maternal mental health and substance use disorders. It will also codify the Maternal Mental Health Hotline, which is a national 24/7 voice and text program that is operated by licensed health care professionals and provides resources to pregnant and postpartum women to address their mental health and substance use disorder challenges. I will always serve as a fierce advocate for women across the country and will fight to ensure that every mother has access to critical resources to stay healthy regardless of race or socioeconomic status.”
“Pregnancy and new motherhood can be wonderful and exciting times in a woman’s life, however they can also be stressful and demanding, resulting in both physical and mental challenges. I am proud to join my colleagues to reauthorize and expand these programs to address maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders. I am hopeful that by providing an immediate place to turn with the maternal mental health hotline and providing the resources for state programs to identify and treat these issues, better outcomes for both mothers and their babies can be realized,” Senator Capito said.
The Into the Light Act will expand existing cost-effective programs for pregnant and postpartum individuals based on feedback from states, broadening the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) screening and treatment grants from 7 to 30 states, and adding culturally appropriate trainings for health providers. Additionally, the bill will codify the maternal mental health hotline funding from the FY 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which offers 24/7 voice and text support to individuals and families impacted by maternal mental health conditions.
“One in five women/mothers in California struggle with mental health challenges while pregnant or after giving birth, making it one of the most common complications of pregnancy and childbirth,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “Mental and emotional support and access to mental health care for women/mothers has been long overlooked, yet is critical to the overall health of both women/mothers and their newborns. That’s why I’m proud to join Assistant Speaker Clark in introducing the Into the Light Act, which would allow providers to expand comprehensive behavioral health screening and treatment for pregnant and postpartum people in California and throughout the country. We must do more to support moms who are coping with postpartum depression and other maternal mental illnesses.”
“Having practiced medicine for nearly three decades, I witnessed the joy and toll of pregnancy on mothers. It is important that we establish simple steps to ensure mothers are able to receive not only the physical health care they need, but also mental health care,” said Congressman Burgess. “This legislation will help provide solutions and access to mental health resources for mothers who are facing postpartum depression.”
“For the sacred gift of life that it brings, pregnancy can be a precious and blessed time in the lives of mothers who are experiencing it. Tragically though, pregnancy also carries countless dangers to both mothers and their children that can persist long past birth,” said Congresswoman Clarke. “This legislation is not only a necessary step towards providing new and expecting mothers and their children with the resources they need to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, but it reaffirms our commitment to support mothers through whatever difficulties they may face. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in this noble pursuit.”
“As a mother of four and a new grandmother, I understand the importance of maternal mental health and how challenging early motherhood can be. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has only added more stress and uncertainty on moms and their families,” said Congresswoman Kim. “I’m proud to join this bipartisan, bicameral effort to provide cost-effective, targeted investments that build on the success of existing mental health programs to help moms that need it most. When mom and baby thrive, so do our communities.”
"Every new mother deserves access to mental health care resources, but sadly, we are leaving too many moms behind, often women of color," said Senator Baldwin. "This bicameral, bipartisan legislation will help ensure that regardless of where new mothers live in Wisconsin or America, they will have the resources needed to address their mental health and substance use disorder challenges, and go on to lead healthy lives."
“Mothers are the strength in so many families and they deserve our support when it comes to mental health,” said Senator Murkowski. “While pregnancy is one of the great blessings in life, many women struggle during pregnancy and postpartum can lead to significant challenges both mentally and physically. This legislation is focused on supporting mothers by reauthorizing and expanding programs to support maternal mental health and address substance use disorders. I’m committed to supporting mothers so they can better support their babies.”
Maternal mental health conditions – including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorder -- are the most common complications of pregnancy and childbirth, affecting 1 in 5 mothers or 800,000 families every year in the United States. Tragically, suicide and overdose combined are the leading cause of death for women in the first year following pregnancy. Untreated maternal mental health conditions can have long-term negative impacts on the parent, baby, and community. These conditions cost the United States $14.2 billion each year in poor maternal and infant health outcomes and lost wages and productivity. Despite the high prevalence of maternal mental health conditions, up to 75% of individuals affected never receive treatment. For all these reasons, it is critical that maternal mental health conditions be identified and treated before they reach crisis level.
“MMHLA applauds the Congressional leaders who have sponsored Into the Light, which will provide much-needed resources to pregnant and postpartum people suffering mental health conditions during and following pregnancy,” said MMHLA Executive Director Adrienne Griffen. “The hotline will ensure that support and information is available anytime day or night, and the additional funding for grants will increase four-fold the number of states able to implement proven programs to treat maternal mental health conditions. We must do all we can to address these illnesses so that new parents and their infants get off to the best start possible.”