On March 30, the House approved, 391-8, the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support (MOTHERS) for Postpartum Depression Act (H.R. 20). The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the bill on March 4 (see The Source, 3/6/09).
Sponsor Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) said, “After eight long years, today marks an important step forward in the journey for Congress to fully recognize postpartum depression as a national women’s health priority…No longer will postpartum depression be dismissed as mere ‘baby blues.’ Mr. Speaker, today, 60 to 80 percent of new mothers experience symptoms of postpartum depression, while the more serious condition, postpartum psychosis, affects up to 20 percent of women who have recently given birth…In light of all these sobering facts, sadly, I was finally compelled to author H.R. 20 in December 2007, after watching the news accounts of the missing Melanie Blocker Stokes. This bright, vibrant woman who loved life was a first time mother, a successful businesswoman, and my constituent. Despite her family’s valiant interventions, Melanie’s psychosis was so severe that she slipped away and ended her life in solitary agony.” Rep. Rush continued, “Of the new postpartum cases this year, less than 15 percent of mothers will receive treatment and even fewer will receive adequate treatment; however, with treatment, over 90 percent of these mothers could overcome their depression. Every 50 seconds a new mother will begin struggling with the effects of mental illness…Mr. Speaker, thank you for this day because, today, Mrs. Blocker and hundreds of thousands of mothers will not have to wait any longer for Congress to act! By passage of H.R. 20, today, we will put mothers first.”