WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, June 22, Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA-5) announced that her bill, The Into the Light Act, has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 402-20.
This bicameral and bipartisan legislation, co-led by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-3) will reauthorize and expand a grant program to screen and treat maternal mental health and substance use disorders and was originally created through Clark’s Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act, that was signed into law in 2016.
This bill will add training on trauma-informed care and will bridge gaps in health equity by providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services for pregnant and postpartum mothers.
Clark’s bill passed as part of the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act, a bipartisan package of bills to address the mental health and opioid addiction abuse crises.
“As a mom and a lawmaker, I know that pregnancy and early motherhood are some of the most rewarding – and challenging – times for a woman and her family. But too many mothers don’t have access to the help or support they need, despite the incredibly high rates of mental health issues during this critical time,” said Assistant Speaker Clark. “I am thrilled that my Into the Light Act is one step closer to becoming law and providing permanent mental health resources to moms across the country, from a 24/7 voice and text hotline to improved screening and treatment programs. It is our duty to ensure that moms have the mental and behavioral health support and resources they need to succeed, and I’m proud to lead this essential legislation.”
“Data has shown that maternal mental health conditions are strongly related to maternal mortality rates, with suicides and overdoses leading the cause of death for new mothers,” said Herrera Beutler. “I’m pleased the House recognized the urgency of this crisis and today advanced the bipartisan solution to expand screenings and mental health resources for moms, including the 24/7 voice and text Maternal Mental Health Hotline I advanced in 2020.”
Today, the most common complication of pregnancy is a mental health condition, and suicide and overdose are leading causes of death for postpartum women. As many as 75% of those impacted never receive treatment, costing our health care system, workforce, and economy an estimated $14.2 billion each year or $32,000 per mother-infant pair, and resulting in potential negative long-term consequences for the health and well-being of parents, infants, and families. The pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis, tripling the number of pregnant or postpartum women struggling with these conditions.
The Into the Light Act for Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Act will take commonsense steps to scale up the existing screening and treatment program based on feedback from states, broaden the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) support from 7 to 30 state programs, and add training on trauma-informed care, biases, and culturally and linguistically appropriate services to bridge gaps for health equity. It will also codify the Maternal Mental Health Hotline, which is a national 24/7 voice and text program operated by licensed health care professionals who are trained to help pregnant or postpartum women and family members affected by maternal mental health and substance use disorders.
Read the bill HERE.