A study of the impact of postpartum depression on vulnerable communities will be conducted by the New York state Office of Mental Health under legislation approved this week by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The bill is meant to review how postpartum depression is potentially under diagnosed and under treated in at-risk populations, especially among women of color.
Postpartum depression has been made worse, supporters of the legislation said, due to racial inequiities and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have a maternal health crisis that is disproportionately taking the lives of Black and Brown mothers, people who give birth, and babies in our state," said state Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas, who sponsored the bill with state Sen. Samra Brouk. "It's a crisis that is perpetuated by systemic racism, which is a fundamental cause of public health disparities."
The study will review additional questions or tools that could be used to minimize disparities within current screenings for postpartum depression, find and identify racial disparities in the current screening tools and find ways of reducing or ending discrimination toward transgender, non-binary and racial and ethic health discrimination.
“Black women are twice as likely to experience maternal mental health conditions but half as likely to receive treatment," Brouk said. "The most commonly used screenings in New York do not account for social determinants of health—such as food scarcity, systemic racism, and housing insecurity—which means these screenings are less effective at detecting maternal depression in Black and brown women. I wrote this new law to have professionals re-evaluate current maternal mental health screenings so that we can better diagnose and treat these conditions in all new mothers. In enacting this legislation, we are telling new moms that you do not have to struggle alone and setting a national standard for maternal mental health care."