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Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research & Care Act

Statement of Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Executive Director
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

October 15, 2007

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the nation’s largest grassroots organization representing individuals and families with mental illnesses, is pleased to offer its strong support for House passage of the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act (HR 20).

This important legislation addresses the national priority of post-partum depression (PPD) and post-partum psychosis. Our 1,100 state and local affiliates, and members nationwide, urge all House members to support this critical legislation.

Every year as many as 10-20 percent of new mothers experience a serious episode of a mood or anxiety disorder.  In addition, postpartum psychosis strikes an estimated 1 in 1,000 new mothers. As many as 20 percent of new mothers experience some form of PPD – approximately 800,000 women each year. Research has demonstrated that education, screening and early intervention are effective tools in limiting the instance and severity of PPD, which is a serious and disabling condition. 

HR 20 will assist community-based providers (including physicians and nurse midwives), educate women and their families about PPD and offer the opportunity for new mothers to be screened during the first year of postnatal checkups.  In addition, grants will be available to states, localities and community-based providers for delivery of essential services to women with PPD and psychosis, including enhanced outpatient care.  Finally, HR 20 also expands existing research directed toward new treatment and diagnostic tools. 

NAMI congratulates Congressman Bobby Rush of Illinois for his outstanding leadership in bringing this important legislation to the House.

We look forward to working with him to press for quick Senate passage.   

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