Schlossberg bill helping moms battling postpartum depression is approved by House Children and Youth Committee

A bill co-sponsored by state Reps. Tarah  Toohil, D-Luzerne, and Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, that would make resources available for children born to mothers who are at high risk for maternal depression has been approved today by members of the House Children and Youth Committee and awaits a full House vote.

Schlossberg said H.B.200 would help to ensure that infants and their mothers affected by postpartum depression have access to services that are currently in place in their community that provide support and referrals necessary for the healthy development of infants.

“I am grateful to House committee chair people Representatives Scott Conklin and Kathy Watson for bringing this important legislation up for a vote in committee,” Schlossberg said. ‘It is wonderful to see the bipartisan support Representative Toolhil and I have received in making early intervention services easier for mothers. Strong and thriving babies need strong and thriving mothers.”

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 can last up to a year affects about 10-20 percent of new mothers. Yet, only 15 percent of women seek treatment for postpartum depression.

"All too often, a woman is unable or unwilling to seek the services that she needs in order to treat postpartum depression, for both herself and her baby,” Schlossberg said.  ‘By passing this legislation out of committee, we are not only making it easier for women to have access to services, we also are making a statement: Postpartum depression is real, and there is no fault in seeking help for a potentially debilitating disease.”

Schlossberg said 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.

The Lehigh County legislator said the bill would make postpartum depression a qualifying condition under the existing Pennsylvania Early Intervention program, meaning mothers at high risk for postpartum depression and their infants would be automatically eligible for assessment and tracking through the program.

The legislation is part of Schlossberg’s ongoing mental health initiative. Schlossberg is co-chair and co-founder of the bipartisan Mental Health Caucus.