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Senator Baldwin, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Provide Support for Moms Experiencing Mental Health Issues, Substance Use Disorders

Nationwide, as many as 1 in 5 pregnant or postpartum women are affected by a maternal mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a substance use disorder

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and colleagues introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Into the Light for Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Act of 2022, legislation to reauthorize and expand a grant program to screen and treat maternal mental health and substance use disorders. The reauthorization would create, improve, and/or enhance state programs for better screening and treatment.

“Every new mother deserves access to mental health care resources, but sadly, we are leaving too many moms behind, often women of color,” said Senator Baldwin. “This bicameral, bipartisan legislation will help ensure that regardless of where a new mother lives in Wisconsin or America, they have the resources they need to address their mental health and substance use disorder challenges, and can go on to lead healthy lives.”

The Into the Light Act for Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Act will take commonsense steps to scale up the existing screening and treatment program based on feedback from states, broaden the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) support from 7 to 30 state programs, and add trainings on trauma-informed care, biases, and culturally and linguistically appropriate services to bridge gaps for health equity. It will also codify the Maternal Mental Health Hotline, which is a national 24/7 voice and text program that is operated by licensed health care professionals who are trained on helping pregnant or postpartum women and family members affected by maternal mental health and substance use disorders.

Today, the most common complication of pregnancy is a mental health condition, and suicide and overdose are leading causes of death for postpartum women. As many as 75% of those impacted never receive treatment, costing our health care system, workforce, and economy an estimated $14.2 billion each year or $32,000 per mother-infant pair, and resulting in potential negative long-term consequences for the health and well-being of parents, infants, and families. The pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis, tripling the number of pregnant or postpartum women struggling with these conditions.

The legislation is also sponsored by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-03), Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX-26), Doris Matsui (D-CA-06), Yvette Clarke (D-NY-09), Young Kim (R-CA-39), and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-MA-5).

“One of the devastating realities in our country is that mental health conditions are the most common complication of pregnancy, with suicide being a leading cause of death in new mothers. The Into the Light legislation will help ensure that women are educated about and screened for maternal mental health conditions and have access to mental health care. Maternal mental health conditions impact so many more than just the mother -- the infant, the family, other supports, and society as whole. Perinatal psychiatric access programs, such as the Periscope Project in Wisconsin, support all health care providers in screening, assessing and treating maternal mental health conditions despite a dearth of psychiatrists and mental health providers in our state,” said Dr. Christina L. Wichman, DO, Medical Director for the Periscope Project and Professor of Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“MMHLA applauds the Congressional leaders who have sponsored Into the Light, which will provide much-needed resources to pregnant and postpartum people suffering mental health conditions during and following pregnancy,” said Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance (MMHLA) Executive Director Adrienne Griffen. “The hotline will ensure that support and information is available anytime day or night, and the additional funding for grants will increase four-fold the number of states able to implement proven programs to treat maternal mental health conditions. We must do all we can to address these illnesses so that new parents and their infants get off to the best start possible.

The Into the Light Act for Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Act is endorsed by (120+): Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, &Mother, 2020 Mom, Amara Acupuncture, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Mental Health Counselors Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, Anna Maling, LGPC private practice, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Ashley Rideout LCSW, Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, Baby Caravan, Best of You, LLC, Bethesda Women's Mental Health Center, Black Women's Health Imperative, Central Jersey Family Health Consortium, Chamber of Mothers, Cherished Mom, Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA), Children's Home Society of Florida, Collaborative Family Healthcare Association, Daniel N. Sacks MD PA, Danielle Cotter LLC, DC Metro Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative, Dear Sunday Motherhood, Eclectic DC, EmmaWell, Every Mother Counts, Feed Your Mental LLC, Gemma, Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice, Hand to Hold, HealthyWomen, Heidi Cox Psychology PLLC, Heidi Koss, MA, LMHC, PLLC, Hope for Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation, International OCD Foundation, International Society of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses, Ivy Counseling & Wellness Services, LLC, Kayce Hodos, LPC, Komae, LA Best Babies Network, Laurel Hicks LLC, Liberation-Based Therapy, Life Beyond the Vines, Lifeline for Families Center at the UMass Chan Medical School, Lifeline for Moms Program at the UMass Chan Medical School, Live Life Unlimited Counseling, Love Makes a Family LLC, Major Care, Mammha, Marce of North American Perinatal Mental Health Society, March for Moms, March of Dimes, Maternal and Perinatal Services, LLC, Maternal Mental Health NOW, Medical University of South Carolina, Mental Health America, Mental Health America of Kentucky, Mental Health America of Ohio, mission:motherhood, MomsRising, National Association for Children's Behavioral Health, National Association for Rural Mental Health, National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National League for Nursing, National Partnership for Women & Families, Niivana Telehealth, North American Society for Psychosocial Obstetrics & Gynecology (NASPOG), Not Safe For Mom Group (NSFMG), Nurtured Well, LLC, Parent Child Center of Northwestern Counseling & Support Services, Parents After Childbirth Education (PACE), PCBH Strategies, LLC, Pediatrics, Perigee Fund, Perinatal Support Washington, Postpartum Resource Center of New York, Postpartum Support International, Postpartum Support International - Alaska, Postpartum Support International - Arkansas, Postpartum Support International - Colorado, Postpartum Support International - Delaware, Postpartum Support International - Louisiana, Postpartum Support International - Massachusetts, Postpartum Support International - New Jersey, Postpartum Support International - New York, Postpartum Support International - North Carolina, Postpartum Support International - Pennsylvania, Postpartum Support International - South Carolina, Postpartum Support Virginia, PRISM for Moms, Psychotherapy Action Network, Restoring Our Own Through Transformation (ROOTT), Return to Zero: HOPE, Rhode Island Maternal Psychiatry Resource Network (RI MomsPRN) Program, Run Tell Mom, Saagara, PLLC, Sarah Briggs and Associates, Shades Of Blue Project, SMART Recovery, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Society for Women's Health Research, SOURCE Psychotherapy, Superkin, Susan Benjamin Feingold, PsyD and Associates LLC, The Colette Louise Tisdahl Foundation, The Family Center Mental Health Clinic, The Fifth Trimester, The Motherhood Center, Therapy of the Heart and Spirit, Totum Women, U.S. Lactation Consultant Association, University of North Carolina, Vania Manipod, DO, Inc, Wednesday Collaborative, Zero to Three, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Northwell Health.

Full text of the legislation is available here.