NEW YORK CITY, N.Y., August 6, 2014 – Ann Smith, a New Yorker and nurse midwife, lauded the new postpartum depression legislation signed by New York Governor Cuomo this week. The law (S. 7234B / A. 9610B) provides guidelines on maternal depression screening, information on support and referrals, and public education to promote awareness and reduce stigma. “We hope that this much needed bill will ensure that no woman with perinatal mood disorder in New York will be ignored or neglected,” said Smith, MSN, CNM, WHNP, President of Postpartum Support International (PSI). Founded in 1987, PSI is the leading organization dedicated to helping families suffering from perinatal mood disorders, and is uniquely poised to assist New York in developing education materials and resources to fulfill the mandates of the law.
Sonia Murdock, PSI New York Co-Coordinator and Executive Director of the Postpartum Resource Center of New York said, “We are grateful and honored to have met and worked with Senator Krueger to help the Maternal Depression Bill become law.” Similar legislation has been passed in other states, including New Jersey, Minnesota, Illinois, Oregon, and Massachusetts.
According to Smith, mood disorders are the # 1 complication of childbearing. They do not manifest only as depression, but include anxiety, inability to cope, obsessive thoughts, insomnia, difficulty bonding, and in the most severe and rare cases, psychosis which involves hallucinations, delusions and a break from reality. In the worst case scenario of severe depression and psychosis, tragedies can occur including suicide and infanticide. On a positive note mothers who receive proper support, diagnosis and treatment almost always recover completely.
There are good screening tools available such as the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale. They can be administered in 5 minutes by providers who are not mental health experts. Mothers who screen positive can be provided information and referred for care. The challenge may be in this area, as there is a need for more providers knowledgeable in perinatal mood disorders to help all who need treatment. “PSI has been the leader in training professionals through our onsite and webinar trainings. Thousands of providers have completed our PSI certificate training in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and we look forward to training more to care for pregnant, postpartum, and post-loss women and families,” said Wendy Davis, PhD, Executive Director of PSI. “We are also very grateful to our dedicated volunteers who offer telephone and online help, providing reassurance and links to providers, so moms and families know they are not alone while they connect to the resources they need.”
Postpartum Support International has volunteers in all U.S. states and over 35 countries. Visit www.postpartum.net for resources or call the PSI Warmline, available every day in English and Spanish, 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD).