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Sunday, December 27, 2020

Congress Approves Funding For Maternal Mental Health

Photo by Julia M Cameron

The Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance (MMHLA) commends the United States Congress for including two key maternal mental health provisions in the stimulus relief package passed on December 21, 2020.

• $3 million to create a new Maternal Mental Health Hotline
• $5 million for grants to state programs addressing maternal mental health

MMHLA partnered with Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard to create the Maternal Mental Health Hotline, which will provide new mothers a 24/7 lifeline to support and information about maternal mental health. According to Adrienne Griffen, MMHLA Executive Director, "New mothers often feel isolated and alone, especially in the middle of the night when they are awake every few hours feeding a newborn baby. This dedicated hotline will connect new mothers to a qualified counselor during those dark hours. And the hotline is an incredible value: only 75 cents for each new mother."

Congress also approved $5 million for an ongoing program to provide grants to states to address maternal mental health. This program was launched in 2018 and provides funding for five years to seven states (Florida, Louisiana, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont). Each state program educates frontline providers about maternal mental health conditions and provides psychiatric consultation along with resources and referrals for affected women.

MMHLA anticipates the President to sign this bill into law before the New Year.

Mental health conditions are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth, affecting 1 in 5 women. They represent an underlying cause for 9% of pregnancy-related deaths, with 75% of deaths by suicide occurring after 43 days postpartum. The approximate cost of not treating maternal mental health conditions was $32,000 per mother-infant pair or $14.2 billion for all births. COVID-19 has exacerbated maternal mental health symptoms with studies showing increasing rates of depression and anxiety among pregnant women during this pandemic.

Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance (MMHLA) is a nonpartisan 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the mental health of childbearing women in the United States by advocating for universal education, screening, referral, and treatment of postpartum depression and related maternal mental health (MMH) conditions. For more information visit www.mmhla.org

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