By Mike Skurko
For new or expecting mothers, postpartum depression is a potentially devastating, but treatable condition affecting many women each year. Tuesday in Northampton, local survivors of the condition shared their personal stories, and now ask for a bill to ensure treatment for all women.
"10 to 15 percent of mothers experience postpartum depression.” said Liz Friedman, director of Postpartum Support Initiative for MotherWoman. “That is about 800-1200 women in this 3-county region who experience postpartum depression each year."
MotherWoman is an Amherst-based group that provides social support to mothers. They also push for any legislation that makes a more family-friendly society.
"MotherWoman was born from this moment of realizing that there were very important conversations that mothers need to have about what it's really like to be a mother, what the real challenges are." said Friedman.
In Boston on Wednesday, hundreds of postpartum depression survivors, experts, and advocates from across Massachusetts will testify before the Joint Committee on Financial Services. They want a bill that provides all pregnant women with available options for screening and treating depression.
“They are often not asked a series of basic questions to assess their basic emotional well-being." said Melanie DeSilva, executive director of MotherWoman. “The result is that many women who are in serious postpartum crisis end up falling through the cracks. [This bill] is going to lead to identifying those women most in need of help and getting them the help they need."
Nearly 3 dozen representatives from the Pioneer Valley will be on hand for the hearing in Boston. Pending Wednesday’s review of this bill, it could get passed on for a future legislative vote.