The historic passage of the federal health care legislation last week included a provision for a new national postpartum depression (PPD) program. It leaves out the federal screening program so feared by the bill’s opponents, but it includes more money for greater education outreach and more research into this condition. The Melanie Blocker Stokes Mother’s Act passed in watered down form.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a condition suffered by a minority of women who just gave birth. It is characterized by severe depression and sadness, and often either a lack of interest or even thoughts of harming one’s newborn baby. There is also often the feeling that one will not be a good mother. Postpartum depression may be called the “baby blues,” and sometimes an obstetrician or doctor will minimize the symptoms of this concern by suggesting it is “normal” or something most mothers experience that the woman just needs to “snap out of” or it’ll resolve on its own given time. It may very well indeed, but it may also worsen and like any mental health condition, should be taken seriously.
The federal legislation is named the Melanie Blocker Stokes Mother’s Act, for an Illinois woman whose story has been on the Oprah Winfrey Show and in Jet and Ebony Magazine. A month after giving birth in 2001, the once-vibrant career woman and doctor’s wife was in a depression so profound she stopped eating and drinking. Medication and other treatments failed her. Stokes jumped to her death from the 12th floor of a Chicago hotel.
There is a crying need to look for causes, methods of prevention and better treatment for PPD, and to implement nationwide the kind of education New Jersey has been doing.
There’s not a lot of federal money devoted to the act — just a few million dollars for the education component, according to the article. Hopefully with the passage of the new law, however, the estimated 800,000 mothers who suffer from this concern each year will get better care and be taken seriously by their health care provider.
Postpartum depression is a very real and very serious mental health concern that can affect both the health and well-being of mother and baby. It’s nice to finally see the passage of a solid first step in helping the mothers who may suffer from this concern in silence, and either fear or don’t know how to ask for help for it.
Read the full article: Postpartum depression: Health bill helps mothers in crisis