TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey, which would require health care professionals to provide information and screening for postpartum depression (PPD), was passed out of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today, by a vote of 8 to 0.
“Postpartum depression is not something that any woman should have to handle alone,” said Senator Codey, D-Essex. “By requiring health professionals to screen women for PPD, we can ensure that women get the support they need to achieve a full recovery and enjoy new motherhood.”
Under the bill, S-213, health professionals providing postnatal care will be required to screen new mothers for PPD symptoms prior to discharge and at the first few postnatal check-up visits. The bill will also require physicians, nurse midwives and other licensed health care professionals, who provide prenatal care, to provide education to women and their families about PPD in order to lower the likelihood that new mothers will continue to suffer from this illness in silence.
Furthermore, the bill will require all birthing facilities in the state to provide departing new mothers and fathers with complete information on PPD. The bill also calls for fathers and/or other appropriate family members, to be included in the education and treatment processes in order for them to better understand and help new mothers cope with the potential effects of PPD.
“I know, first hand, the grief caused by postpartum depression,” said Senator Codey. “It’s my hope that this bill will continue to shed light on the issue and ensure that postpartum depression gets treated like any other illness – with the attention and care it deserves.”
The bill expands upon Codey’s efforts, both as former Governor and Senator, to improve New Jersey’s mental health services. Last year, Codey allocated $2 million in the FY ’06 budget to fund PPD screenings for uninsured mothers and $2.5 million to implement a statewide PPD education campaign. S-213 will strengthen these measures by ensuring that all women have access to screening and education.
The bill now awaits action by the full Senate.