Moving the Needle on Maternal Mental Health through Advocacy for National Policy Change
Leading Organizations Advance Maternal Mental Health Policy
Maternal mental health (MMH) is the most common complication of childbirth, affecting up to one in five women, with disproportionate impact in BIPOC communities and other marginalized groups, and intersecting with a wide array of societal issues and systems. When birthing people receive the mental health interventions they need, they are better able to bond with their babies, which forms the foundation for positive outcomes throughout the infants’ lives.
To achieve meaningful policy change, particularly for those furthest from equity, a robust and coordinated advocacy effort must be in place. Since 2020, Perigee grantees Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance (MMHLA), the Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health (formerly 2020 Mom), and Shades of Blue Project have brought their unique expertise together to advance several federal policies critical to positive MMH outcomes. Perigee Fund’s investment in their advocacy capacity and collaboration resulted in several significant wins that increase mental health help for moms in health care, community, and home settings, including:
- Passed legislation establishing the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline, a 24/7 English/Spanish phone and text hotline that has helped approximately 1,000 helpseekers each month since launching on Mother’s Day 2022. The hotline is administered by Perigee grantee Postpartum Support International.
- Increased federal funding for perinatal psychiatric access programs, which complements existing local funding and expands the programs to 28 states (Lifeline for Moms).
- Compelled an assessment of MMH in members of the armed forces and their dependents (Military Moms’ Mental Health Assessment Act).
- Supported a demonstration project studying the impact of doulas on mental health and wellbeing of military servicemembers and their spouses (Fact sheet | Issue Brief).
- Supported the drafting of each version of the Moms Matter Act, part of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, and led related advocacy work
- Secured appropriations for grants to organizations serving BIPOC populations through the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act. The bill included grants, to entities including educational institutions to among other things, “improve the provision of prenatal care, labor care, birthing, and postpartum care for racial and ethnic minority populations.”
- Passed legislation (TRIUMPH for New Moms Act) to create a federal interagency task force to align and coordinate MMH response across different federal agencies.
Perigee fund focuses on systems change. Investing in national advocacy for policy, public resource flows, and connections and relationships has resulted in important returns for the issue of MMH from which to further build.
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