Schlossberg’s bill would help moms, children battle maternal depression

ALLENTOWN, Sept. 21 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, announced today he intends to introduce legislation in the near future that would make resources available for children born to mothers who are at high risk for maternal depression.

"Having a child should be one of the happiest times for new parents, but, through no fault of their own, some new moms develop maternal depression," Schlossberg said. "I am offering this proposal because I believe we should be doing everything in our power to ensure the well-being of mothers and the healthy development of their children."

Schlossberg’s proposed legislation would add maternal depression as an at-risk category, which would enable the state to develop and disseminate early intervention services to facilitate positive childhood development. 

"Sensationalized headlines and other media may not portray maternal depression in the most accurate of lights," Schlossberg said. "The reality is tragic results are very rare but maternal depression does still pose a significant risk to the physical and emotional health of children."     

Schlossberg noted the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has found children who are raised in an environment of mental illness without receiving evidence-based interventions often see a significant impact on their long-term early childhood development.

"As a father of two, I want to do everything within my power to guarantee the health and well-being of moms and their babies," Schlossberg said. "Given what we know about the importance of the earliest years in childhood development, providing this intervention and support would prove vastly beneficial to children and offer their moms some comfort in a difficult time."

As of the end of last week, Schlossberg’s maternal depression proposal had 17 bipartisan co-sponsors.

Maternal depression, also known as postpartum depression, is a type of clinical depression which can affect up to 80 percent of new mothers in a mild short-term form. More intense symptoms which last up to a year affects about 10 to 20 percent of new mothers.   

This proposal is part of Schlossberg’s ongoing mental health efforts. Schlossberg is co-chair and co-founder of the bipartisan Mental Health Caucus.