Washington - Leaders in the fight against postpartum depression, including Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), actress Brooke Shields, and former New Jersey First Lady Mary Jo Codey, are celebrating today as The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act - legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to combat postpartum depression - was signed into law as part of landmark health insurance reform that passed Congress in March. The legislation will establish a comprehensive federal commitment to combating postpartum depression through new research, education initiatives and voluntarily support service programs.

"Today we celebrate a victory for women everywhere - a gift for Mother's Day for all new mothers who suffer the agony of postpartum depression. Millions of mothers nationwide who are suffering or will suffer from postpartum depression are among the winners as a result of the new health insurance reform law," said Senator Menendez. "These women understand that postpartum depression is serious and disabling, and that the support structure to help prepare for and overcome it is has been woefully insufficient. We will attack postpartum depression on multiple fronts - with education, support, and research - so that new moms can feel supported and safe rather than scared and alone. I applaud the incredible group of advocates and inspirational women who helped this become a reality - I am absolutely thrilled that this is the law of the land. "

"There's a lot of shame and there's a lot of guilt associated with postpartum depression, it is so prevalent and yet nobody discusses it," said Brooke Shields, actress and author of Down Came the Rain, a book on postpartum depression. "I am happy that mothers in America will now be able to benefit from support services that will not only serve as comfort for her and her family, it will help to create awareness and lead the way out of this potentially devastating condition."

"Finally, women all over the county are going to have access to the kinds of support services and information that women in New Jersey have had for a number of years," said Mary Jo Codey, former First Lady of New Jersey and leading advocate in the fight against postpartum depression. And we're going to get more research into these insidious illnesses. This is what I'd worked and hoped for over a long period of time. I almost can't believe it finally happened!"

"The passage of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS ACT is a gift to countless women who have struggled and continue to struggle with postpartum depression," said Sylvia Lasalandra-Frodella, Legislative Director, PerinatalPro.com and author of A Daughter's Touch. "The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS ACT will help all women understand that they no longer have to suffer in shame or silence if she's confronted with feelings of depression following the birth of her newborn. Thank you Senator Robert Menendez, Congressman Bobby Rush, Senator Richard Codey and Mary Jo Codey for all of your dedication, commitment and tenacity to make this bill law!"

Susan Dowd Stone, Chair President's Advisory Council, Postpartum Support International said, "Senator Robert Menendez, you are an unwavering champion of the women and infants you represent. Against all odds, you never once set aside this initiative. You are not just the Senator from New Jersey, you are the Senator of America's mothers."

"We are so indebted to Senator Menendez and everyone on Capitol Hill who recognized that we needed to do so much more to educate women about postpartum depression, to ensure that healthcare providers are able to identify those who suffer, and to provide sufficient resources and services for recovery in every corner of our country," said Katherine Stone, author of Postpartum Progress, the most widely-read blog on postpartum depression and other mental illnesses related to childbirth, and board member of Postpartum Support International. "We needed their help to raise awareness at the federal level and make this a healthcare priority, and they've done just that. There is no doubt that this new legislation will help save the lives of many new mothers and ensure that their families have a healthier start."

"The American Psychological Association applauds the passage of the MOTHERS Act, which will improve the health and well being of approximately 800,000 women suffering from postpartum depression, included in health care reform legislation. The MOTHERS Act will expand research, outreach and education to mothers, families, and health care professionals on this critical issue," states Gwendolyn Puryear Keita, PhD, Executive Director, Public Interest Directorate, American Psychological Association.

Dr. Gerald F. Joseph, President of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, applauds Senator Menendez's leadership in ensuring inclusion of the MOTHERS Act in health care reform, saying "This will ensure that women and their health care providers have the best tools available to identify and treat all women that suffer from the very real and often severe results of postpartum depression."

"Adoption of the MOTHERS Act is a positive development for women and their families," said American Psychiatric Association President Alan F. Schatzberg, M.D. "Now the many women who are suffering from postpartum depression will have the support needed to get the help for this treatable condition."

"As a nurse dedicated to caring for expectant mothers and their newborns, I applaud the passage of the MOTHERS Act. This legislation will provide much needed support services and education to women suffering from postpartum depression," said Karen Peddicord, CEO of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.

"Midwives are particularly sensitive to the need for support for mothers in the postpartum period and have long advocated for more intensive follow-up for all new mothers. We are so pleased by the passage of the MOTHERS Act which Senator Menendez has championed," stated Melissa Avery, CNM, PhD, FACNM, President of the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

"The March of Dimes deeply appreciates the Senator's leadership on this important issue," said Marina L. Weiss, Ph. D, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs for the March of Dimes. "Postpartum depression is a serious problem that takes a toll on women and infants as well as on their families. The Senator's proposal, approved by Congress last night, will ensure that necessary resources are made available to promote early diagnosis and treatment of post partum depression. The provision holds great promise for improving birth outcomes for women and children in every state across the nation."


The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act is designed to help new mothers get through postpartum depression and to help scientist get to the bottom of it. Education, support services and research - those are the three areas in which the MOTHERS Act will begin building what will hopefully become a long-lasting and effective federal initiative to combat this debilitating condition.

Additional information can also be found here: http://menendez.senate.gov/issues/issue/?id=53083415-93a2-4285-9bef-dbece337e3aa

Here are some commonly asked questions - and answers - about the new law:

Q: Some people still think postpartum depression is just the "baby blues." Will this law help raise awareness of PPD - both for new mothers and the general public?
A: Absolutely. It will help initiate a National Public Awareness Campaign to increase awareness and knowledge of postpartum depression and psychosis. This could include public service announcements on TV and radio that emphasize the basics of PDD and awareness about screening.

Q: We still have a lot to learn about why women get postpartum depression and how best to help them with treatment. How will this law help get us that information?
A: This law will help scientists get to the bottom of postpartum depression. The federal government will coordinate and continue research on the causes of PPD and hopefully develop new methods of treatment, which will ultimately help inform doctors and other medical professionals.

Q: Will new support services for mothers suffering from PPD be available?
A: This law encourages the creation of a program to give grants to start local support service programs - one that will hopefully grow over time as it is proven effective. Local community organizations, hospitals or even state or local governments can apply for funding to provide education and services with respect to the diagnosis and management of PPD.

The grants could also be used to provide education about postpartum conditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment. For instance, if the recipient is a medical facility, the grants could be used to educate new mothers and family members about postpartum depression before new mothers leave the health facility.

Q: What does this new law include on screening for postpartum depression?
A: It sets a path toward the most effective screening and diagnostic techniques with a new federal study over the next two years. It allows for increased awareness about screening.

It is also worth pointing out that the health insurance reform law requires that all new insurance plans cover comprehensive women's preventative care and screenings.