U.S. House Approves Herrera Beutler Bill to Address Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Issues
Into the Light for Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Act reauthorizes and expands maternal mental health screening and treatment grants, Maternal Mental Health Hotline
The U.S. House last night approved the Into the Light for Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Act led by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) and Rep. Katherine Clark (MA-05) to reauthorize and expand a grant program to screen and treat maternal mental health and substance use disorders.
The legislation would also codify the initiative Herrera Beutler advanced in 2020 to establish the Maternal Mental Health Hotline that provides a 24/7 text/voice hotline operated by licensed health care professionals trained to respond to pregnant or postpartum women affected by maternal mental health and substance use disorders.
“As a mom of three young kids, I understand the challenges moms face during their pregnancy or postpartum period. 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,” Herrera Beutler said. “I’m pleased the House recognized the urgency of this crisis and passed this 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.”
“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,” Clark said. “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.”
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 trainings 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 that is operated by licensed health care professionals who are trained in helping pregnant or postpartum women and family members affected by maternal mental health and substance use disorders.
Background on maternal health:
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 COVID pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis, tripling the number of pregnant or postpartum women struggling with these conditions.