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By Susan Dowd Stone

The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, sponsored by Senators Menendez, Durbin and Snowe, will help provide support services to women suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis and will also help educate mothers and their families about these conditions. In addition, it will support research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression and psychosis.

Postpartum depression is a devastating mood disorder which strikes many women during and after pregnancy. It is a serious and disabling condition that affects anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of new mothers. In the United States, there may be as many as 800,000 new cases of postpartum conditions each year. These mothers often experience signs of depression and may lose interest in friends and family, feel overwhelming sadness or even have thoughts of harming the baby or themselves. The cause of postpartum depression is not known, but changes in hormone levels, a difficult pregnancy or birth, a family history of depression and other biopsychosocial stressors are considered possible factors.

Postpartum Support International
Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
American Psychological Association
American Psychiatric Association
Children’s Defense Fund
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
March of Dimes
Mental Health America
American College of Nurse Midwives
National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Suicide Prevention Action Network USA
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
National Partnership for Women & Families
OWL- The Voice of Midlife and Older Women
National Women’s Law Center

Section 1: Short title of the bill- The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act.

TITLE I- Research
• Encourages HHS to coordinate and continue research to expand the understanding of the causes of, and find treatments for, postpartum conditions. Also, encourages a National Public Awareness Campaign, to be administered by HHS, to increase awareness and knowledge of postpartum depression and psychosis.

• Sense of Congress that the Director of the NIH may conduct a nationally representative longitudinal study of the relative mental health consequences for women of resolving a pregnancy (intended or unintended) in various ways, including carrying the pregnancy to term and parenting the child, carrying the pregnancy to term and placing the child for adoption, miscarriage, and having an abortion. This study may assess the incidence, timing, magnitude, and duration of the immediate and long-term mental health consequences (positive and negative) of these pregnancy outcomes.

TITLE II- Delivery of Services
• Encourages HHS to make grants available for projects for the establishment, operation, and coordination of systems for the delivery of essential services to individuals with postpartum depression.

o (Entities): Makes grants available to public or nonprofit private entity, which may include a State or local government, a public-private partnership, a recipient of a grant under the Healthy Start program under section 330H of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 254c–8), a public or nonprofit private hospital, community-based organization, hospice, ambulatory care facility, community health center, migrant health center, public housing primary care center, or homeless health center, or any other appropriate public or nonprofit private entity.

o (Activities): Eligible activities include delivering or enhancing outpatient, inpatient and home-based health and support services, including case management and comprehensive treatment services for individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions. Activities may also include providing education about postpartum conditions to new mothers and their families, including symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources, in order to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment.

TITLE III- General Provisions
Title III, Section 301(Funding): Authorizes $3,000,000 for fiscal year 2008; and such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

Title III, Section 302 (HHS Report): Requires the Secretary of HHS to conduct a study on the benefits of screening for postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.


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