Press Release

Senator Gillibrand Announces Passage Of Federal Legislation To Fight Postpartum Depression

Dec 7, 2016

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the passage of the bipartisan Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act to provide targeted, federal funding to screen and treat maternal depression. The bill would create a grant program administered by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to provide funding to states to establish, improve, or maintain programs designed to increase screening, assessment, and referral to treatment for maternal depression among women who are pregnant or up to one year postpartum. This legislation will now go to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“One in seven women experience postpartum depression every year, but only 15 percent ever receive treatment,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This bill would provide critical opportunities for pregnant and postpartum women to receive screenings and new connections to treatments. This is an important medical service that should be routine for the health and well-being of mother and child. I applaud my colleagues for joining me in support for this legislation, and look forward to seeing it signed into law by the President.” 

“This bipartisan legislation only has one more stop before becoming law: the President’s desk. With early diagnosis and proper medical care, 90 percent of mothers with postpartum depression are treated successfully. This important legislation will help new and expecting mothers with treatments and screenings to address this condition. I look forward to seeing the President sign this bill into law,” said Senator Heller.

“Senator Gillibrand is a fierce advocate for women, which she demonstrated once again by her success in securing federal funding to screen and treat maternal depression,” said First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray, who spearheads ThriveNYC, the city’s $850 million effort to address untreated mental illness and substance misuse. “In New York City we currently screen 80 percent of pregnant women and new mothers and provide treatment referrals to those who need it. Our goal is to screen 100 percent of pregnant women and new mothers, because when they don’t get these services there are long-lasting, negative consequences for the whole family. We need to rid our society of the stigma around maternal depression. No mother should fear being called a bad mom for seeking help. Sen. Gillibrand’s achievement will help New York’s young families get the support they need.‎” 

Last year, Senator Gillibrand introduced the Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act with Senators Dean Heller (R-NV), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Ed Markey (D-MA). The legislation is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, March of Dimes, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, among other organizations. 

In January 2016, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) updated its recommendations for primary care screening for and treatment of depression to include pregnant and postpartum women. The new grant program established under the Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act will assist health care providers in expanding access to maternal depression screening, treatment, and follow-up services in accordance with the USPSTF’s new recommendations.