Sacramento, CA August 8, 2022 – Today Senate Bill 1207, authored by Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – Burbank) which would improve maternal mental health support by providing women with outreach services, education and access to mental health treatment, is on the Governor's desk for signature. SB 1207 is supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists District IX (ACOG), Association of California Health Districts, California Catholic Conference and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
"We must do better to support women struggling with maternal mental health and wellness during pregnancy and after childbirth. With 100,000 cases of postpartum depression being reported each year, adequate support and services are critically needed," commented Senator Portantino. "SB 1207 would appropriately address the need for maternal mental health care and I look forward to the Governor's signature."
Postpartum depression is a severe form of clinical depression related to pregnancy and childbirth. The California Department of Public Health reports that 1 in 5 California women suffered from it in 2018. Symptoms include severe mood swings and deep despondency as well as impulses that can compel a mother to harm herself or her child. Evidence suggests that mothers also may hesitate to seek help because of stigmas associated with mental illness, as well as cultural expectations surrounding motherhood
Women of color continue to be among the most affected, in part because too many are under insured. Prenatal symptoms of depression are twice as common for Black (19.9%) and Latina (17.1%) women compared to white (9.5%) and Asian/Pacific Islander (10.3%) women.
"We urge Governor Newsom to sign Senate Bill 1207. California must recognize the implications of untreated and undertreated maternal mental health conditions and take action to ensure early screening, diagnosis, and treatment. As health care providers to California's most vulnerable populations, healthcare districts rely on the State to reaffirm mental and behavioral health care for those who need it most," stated Sarah Bridge, Senior Legislative Advocate for the Association of California Health Districts.
SB 1207 would extend the deadline for the establishment of the maternal mental health program to July 1, 2023. The bill would revise the requirements of the program to include quality measures to encourage screening, diagnosis, treatment, and referral. It also would encourage health care service plans and health insurers to include coverage for doulas, incentivize training opportunities for contracting obstetric providers, and educate enrollees and insureds about the program.
"Untreated perinatal mental health conditions can have devastating effects and are a leading underlying cause of preventable pregnancy-related deaths," said Laura Sirott, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist and Immediate Past Chair of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' District IX. "Despite the fact that perinatal depression specifically affects one in seven birthing individuals during pregnancy and postpartum, perinatal mental health conditions are underrecognized and undertreated. This year ACOG has sharpened its focus on perinatal mental health as part of a larger initiative to address and remove stigma surrounding mental health issues and we applaud Senator Portantino's leadership in bringing forth legislation to help encourage the identification and treatment of patients with perinatal mental health conditions."