Wake up, people who care about mental health. Wake up, people who work to prevent child abuse, people who work to prevent suicide, people who work to prevent preterm births, people who care about healthy families. Wake up, psychiatric professionals, nurses, gynecologists, pediatricians.
Here’s an actual text of a communication being sent far and wide by the very loud and vociferous opposition to the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act to support increased funding, education and research for postpartum depression:
“This MOTHER’S Act, with its innocuous sounding name will mandate “mental screening” for Pregnant women. This will lead to many more young mothers being labeled with fraudulent psychiatric conditions and many of them will be put on dangerous psychiatric drugs even while they are still pregnant. This is already happening in some states such as New Jersey with the state legislature previously passed a similar bill.
With your help, we were able to stop this Federal bill dead in its tracks last year, but the drug lobby apparently never sleeps and they got it through the House of Representatives.
Now we need some fast action from thousands of doctors and patients across the country – in the form of phone calls and faxes to their US Senators to stop this bill from passing in the Senate …”
Let’s be very, very clear. There are some people who, for whatever reason, have decided to convince others that the singular purpose of the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act is to line the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies and drug our nation’s mothers. If you think they aren’t calling their senators and Congresspeople you are mistaken. They are very convicted in their feelings and they call way more than we do.
If you believe what they are saying is true, then I’m not sure why you’d be reading this blog. Because chances are, if you read this blog, you know for a fact, as sure as death and taxes, that there is nothing “fraudulent” about postpartum depression or anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis, or depression and anxiety during pregnancy. I find that deeply, completely insulting.
I’m not sure what is so difficult to accept about the idea that women who are ill with real illnesses need help and we need our society to take more responsibility to help them, starting with the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. Period. End of story.
Have these people not seen the research? Do they not know that women with untreated postpartum depression can go on to have chronic depression for the rest of their lives? Do they not know that women with untreated depression during pregnancy are twice as likely to have pre-eclampsia, twice as likely to have a C-section, twice as likely to have a preterm delivery and twice as likely to have their baby go to NICU? Do they know the odds of developmental delay for children whose mother’s illness goes on and on and on and on? Do they not know that suicide as a result of postpartum mood disorders is the leading cause of death for women postpartum in the US?
You can sit by on the sidelines and watch them win, just like they say they did last year when the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act was not passed. You can say I signed that DBSA petition last year so I’m not doing it again. You can decide that your voice doesn’t count. You can let them convince the rest of the world that the MOTHERS Act is a conspiracy to drug the mothers of the world. You can say I have too many other things to worry about. You can say they’re just the fringe and that no one pays attention to them, but you’d be wrong.
I’m asking you not to. Please do not allow more women and children to suffer when it’s no longer necessary. I don’t care if you’ve never had PPD and it’s not on your radar screen. Healthy women, healthy children and health families should be on everyone’s radar screen.
Here are ways to take action:
- Go to the DBSA and sign the petition.
- E-mail Susan Stone at [email protected] and put your name on the state-by-state list of people who endorse this bill.
- Call and write your senator or Congressperson
- Write about the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act in your blog.
- Call or e-mail every one of your organization’s members today and tell them to get up and get to work for goodness sake.
- Join Postpartum Support International as it works to create more and better services and education for the women who suffer.
The emotional health of approximately 1 million American families each year depends on this.
Because honestly, if we can’t get this one bill passed, how are we going to tackle the much bigger task of helping every single woman with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder who needs help in this country? How are we going to create funding for transportation and child care for women who can’t get to their doctors because they have no car and no babysitter? How are we going to develop a network of highly trained, effective health care providers who are willing to treat women with no insurance? How are we going to fund more research to find out the exact causes of these illnesses so we can develop better, more targeted treatments? How are we going to make sure there are support groups in every corner of this country, no matter how urban or how rural? How are we going to educate doctors on preventing these illnesses in the first place by conducting social histories of their patients before they get pregnant?
This bill has been seven years in the making. In those seven years, how much unnecessary devastation has been suffered?