HARRISBURG – February 28, 2019 – Bipartisan legislation would improve screening and treatment of new mothers affected by postpartum depression, according to the bill’s sponsors, Senators Camera Bartolotta (R-46) and Judy Schwank (D-11).
The Prenatal and Postpartum Counseling and Screening Act would require health care providers to offer information to pregnant women regarding parenting and prenatal depression, postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis and other emotional trauma counseling. New mothers would also be required to undergo screening for postpartum depression symptoms prior to hospital discharge and at postnatal check-up visits.
“Postpartum depression can create a whole host of health risks for both mothers and babies, so identifying and treating this condition is crucial,” Bartolotta said. “We need to make sure mothers are aware of the signs of postpartum depression, as well as all of the resources that are available to help families who are affected by it.”
Many mothers experience a mild, short-term form of postpartum depression commonly referred to as the “baby blues.” However, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 10 to 20 percent of mothers experience more intense symptoms that can last a year or more and may require counseling and/or medication.
“This legislation is an important step in ensuring every baby has a healthy start,” Schwank said. “Thousands of mothers a year in Pennsylvania are affected by Post-partum depression and it’s vital they have access to the services they need to avoid serious and costlier problems later. For the benefit of new mothers, babies and families throughout the Commonwealth, I am hopeful that this legislation can be enacted quickly.”
At least six other states have enacted similar laws to improve diagnosis and treatment of postpartum depression.