Carol Stokes, mother of Melanie Blocker Stokes who took her own life eight years ago while suffering from postpartum psychosis, wrote a letter that appeared in the Chicago Sun Times on Monday, March 30th. In it, she asks the question as to why legislators in the state of Illinois are so willing to turn a blind eye to mothers that suffer from postpartum mood disorders. New Jersey passed its law in 2006 (one year after my own PPD experience) requiring healthcare providers to screen new mothers and provide information about postpartum mood disorders so they can recognize symptoms and know the risk factors. In her letter, Carol asks what legislators in Illinois (and other states for that matter) have against passing a law for healthcare providers to screen mothers for these disorders. What do they have against educating the public? Why do they want to see mothers continue to suffer, sometimes tragically, from these very real and very serious illnesses?
Knowing that legislators are standing in the way of such critical improvements to the treatment and understanding of very real illnesses such as PPD, postpartum psychosis and postpartum OCD should anger every woman in this country into action and sign the petition to urge legislators to once and for all pass the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. The bill requests funding for education, research, public awareness campaigns and programs supportive to mothers struggling with these disorders. It requests research into the potential benefits of screening.
An excerpt from Susan Dowd Stone’s blog (because I couldn’t say it any better):
“After 8 long years of a tireless battle that has yet to become federal law, Carol is angry. Hundreds of thousands of women and their families join her in the disbelief that our nation has not yet been moved to action. Our nation and most states are still without mandated strategies to combat these common illnesses. When one considers that some countries have recognized the devastation of these disorders legally since 1922 (England), how did the world’s most powerful and wealthy country allow these lethal disorders to stay under the radar for decades? Only New Jersey currently has a state law in place, thanks to the efforts of PPD survivor, advocate and Former NJ First Lady Mary Jo Codey.
The statistics are there and they are frightening. Up to 20% of mothers will experience a diagnosable pregnancy related mood disorder…that translates into 800,000 women this year if you use national stats on live births. But if you take the condition of pregnancy as the initiating vulnerability to these disorders, then it may be that the thousands of mothers who miscarry or whose babies are stillborn are also susceptible to these disorders.
For the mother, the effects of untreated postpartum mood disorders range from chronic disability to death. For the child, behavioral and learning disabilities can result when mothers cannot bond effectively with their infant.”
What can you do to help stop this ignorance and ludicrousness from continuing on for yet another year? Show your support of the Melanie Blocker Stockes MOTHERS Act by doing the following:
1. Sign the online petition (scroll down and enter your zip code in the bottom right of the screen), and
2. Add your name to the list of those in your state who support the legislation