On February 23, 2001, Melanie Stokes gave birth to a baby girl. Just three months later, she committed suicide. Melanie’s death gave birth to a very dedicated activist – her mother, Carol Blocker. Frustrated with the failure of physicians to appropriately care for her daughter, Carol worked endlessly to keep Melanie’s tragic death from becoming meaningless. Through Carol’s tireless advocacy and work with Representative Bobby Rush (IL), the Melanie Blocker Stokes Act has now become The MOTHER’S Act.
The MOTHER’S Act as it reads in the current version would provide funds for a public awareness campaign, education campaign for caregivers, increase availability of treatment options and entities as well as require the current Secretary of Health & Human Services to conduct a study regarding the validity of screening for Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.
More and more research is slowly uncovering potential underlying causes and risks related to Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. More and more women and caregivers are becoming educated as more of those who have survived a PMAD speak up to share our story.
If passed, The MOTHER’S Act would further reduce the stigma surrounding new mothers not ensconced in the Johnson & Johnson glow of infantdom. If passed, the MOTHER’S Act would increase funding for research and possibly open even more doors to understanding the cause and more importantly, the potential for truly preventing Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. If passed, the MOTHER’S Act has the potential to prevent tragic deaths like that of Melanie Blocker Stokes.
Much of the debate surrounding the MOTHER’S Act has centered on the word “medication.” Medication does not necessarily mean Anti-depressants. It does not mean this is the ONLY way to treat a PMAD. It is merely listed as an option for treatment. And frankly, if one has a doctor with a quicker draw on his/her prescription pad than Billy the Kidd, I’d run away. I’d run away faster than a cheetah.
Another key point of the opposition has been that the MOTHER’S Act mandates screening. In the current version, there is no mandate for screening. The only mention of screening is to require the Secretary of Health & Human Services to conduct a study regarding the validity of screening for Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. The current standard for screening is the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, which you can learn more about here.
You can read a copy of the current bill by clicking here.
Go read it. (Don’t worry – it’ll pop up in a new tab/window – I’m cool like that here)
Seriously. Read. The. Bill.
Then read it again.
And then come back here. Be honest.
Unlike this week’s TIME article which failed to present both sides, I promise to allow unedited comments in support of or opposing the bill as long as they are civil. (Any comments including personal attacks will NOT be allowed!)
So let’s get to Just Talkin’ Tuesday already!
What kills me is the amount of wild and unsubstantiated claims that people make about postpartum depression and about the MOTHERS Act, and the ignorant people who take it at face value. Read the science. Look at the studies. Check it out for yourself.
Amen to that, Katherine. Education and awareness is indeed key. It’s key to so much – to reducing stigma, to understanding what’s going on, to treatment, to options, to providing support to new moms. If we do not have education and awareness surrounding the postpartum period, there is no hope. Why would anyone want to deny new moms struggling with Postpartum Mood & an Anxiety Disorders hope? What is wrong with that picture???
I completely agree with you. I was shocked at how quickly I was handed a prescription, especially since my OB was not at all that kind of dr. It was amazing to me that as long as I fit the symptoms on the paper I have PPD. Granted I do fit those symtoms and I do have PPD but how about some information, some places to go for support, some therpy ideas, as well as my perscription! And a lot of that stems from a lack of education plain and simple. Some drs just don’t know what else to do because there is not proper research. And what is most shocking to me is we have the money to fund these researchers about things like Viagra and Botox but we can’t help people who really need it, suddenly there is no funding left the well is dry?
There is such a lack of information and everyone is so afraid of being “crazy” that I think it’s easier for people to pretend it’s not there. If there is no awarness, no research, then there is no problem…and sadly that’s not true.
Your comments are all right on the money. We are an inclusive group who chooses to welcome all mothers, regardless of the form of treatment they select to lead to recovery. Why the focus on tormenting moms who may need medication to get well.. haven’t they suffered enough? No one wants to take meds or undergo chemotherapy for that matter, but if it will save your life (and that of your baby), it’s risks vs. benefits.
Shaming mothers for what they are already enduring hurts everyone. Thanks for offering this opportunity to comment.