Mary Jo Codey is the former First Lady of New Jersey and a survivor of postpartum depression. Her husband is NJ State Senate President Richard Codey, former Acting Governor (twice) of New Jersey.
Few couples in the political arena have done so much to highlight mental health issues and advocate for reform, awareness and reduction of stigma. Together, they brought our nation's first state mandate about postpartum depression education, assessment, screening and training of healthcare professionals to New Jersey, legislation which is being considered and replicated across the country.
Mary Jo Codey was the first national political figure to share her story of postpartum depression with a nation that had turned a deaf ear to the suffering of many of its mothers. For her public revelations of two postpartum depressions, she endured public scrutiny and criticism from those who held only one standard for postpartum moms.... wellness, fulfillment and joy. This seemed to only further her resolve; Mary Jo stayed the course with the support of her loving husband and family. Often her speeches brought tears of recognition from those who had suffered, but had no name for their shattering experiences. But eventually, her efforts resulted in the creation of our country's FIRST program for families suffering from postpartum depression, Speak Up When You're Down.
This program inspired healthcare professionals to learn more about these disorders, initiated a help hotline for mothers and families to call, offered a provider resource, and most importantly, her public service announcements gave many despairing mothers the impetus to reach out for help. If Mary Jo Codey could stand up to a nation and acknowledge her experience, maybe there was hope for them too.
Mary Jo Codey is now asking you to support The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. Here is her letter to you.