Mind the Gap: New Report Calls for Action to Address Perinatal Mental Health Crisis That Afflicts About 600,000 Women a Year by 30Seconds Pregnancy
Mind the Gap, a seminal new report, elevates the growing crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of women across the United States each year who suffer from undiagnosed and untreated perinatal mental health disorders. Despite the widespread nature of this health emergency, perinatal mental health receives limited national attention and limited funding.
Mind the Gap, a national initiative led by Postpartum Support International and a broad-based coalition of leading experts and stakeholder groups, lays out a coordinated blueprint of priorities and actions urgently needed to save lives and improve the health and well-being of America’s mothers, babies, fathers and other family and community members.
Perinatal mental health refers to a woman’s mental health during pregnancy and the first 12 months after delivery. A range of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorders, can affect mothers during this period.
The report identifies five national priority areas aimed at increasing treatment for those who suffer from perinatal mental health disorders. Priorities include:
- Raising awareness and helping those who seek support.
- Providing screening and follow-up care.
- Increasing access to and coverage of treatment.
- Providing education and training for health professionals.
- Increasing clinical and prevention research.
Of the about four million women who give birth each year in the United States, at least one in seven, approximately 600,000 women annually, will experience perinatal depression. And even though there are effective treatments, less than 30 percent of affected women seek or receive care.
Perinatal mental health disorders have a higher prevalence rate than breast cancer, but only $54 million in federal research dollars currently are dedicated to addressing them, compared to $1.4 billion for breast cancer. Untreated perinatal mental health disorders cost the United States an estimated $14.2 billion in 2017, with the average cost per mother-child pair being $32,000.
“Perinatal mental health disorders are distinct, serious, and persistent, yet too many policymakers and health-care providers do not recognize the severity and frequency of this under-reported public health crisis,” says PSI’s Executive Director, Wendy N. Davis. “Mind the Gap presents a strategic, cohesive roadmap for launching a national conversation and spurring specific, targeted actions in the areas of policy, outreach, and health-care delivery in order to turn the tide on this crisis and save lives and ease suffering.”
These disorders are both acute and long-term, and affect not only the health of mothers, but also have a demonstrated impact on the father’s mental health and on infant and child development, including the mental and physical health of babies and the entire family – as well as the workplace.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental health conditions are the second leading cause of pregnancy-related death that occurred within 43 days to one year after the end of pregnancy. Meanwhile, children born to mothers with untreated depression experience physical changes in their brain architecture. These changes are linked to negative long-term outcomes for learning and school performance, behavior, the development of future mental health issues, and overall functioning into adulthood.
Led By Postpartum Support International, Mind the Gap is a collective impact initiative comprised of women leaders with lived experience, and other leaders from professional and advocacy organizations representing pediatric health, public health, maternal mental health, mental health, women’s health, as well as academia, health systems, government agencies, major medical centers, and private sector supporters – all working toward improving perinatal mental health.
“Mind the Gap is a call to action for policymakers and the entire health care community,” adds Davis. “The only way to close the gap and improve outcomes for mothers, infants, fathers, and communities is to increase research and funding, improve awareness about the problem and access to critical education, prevention, treatment and other support services for pregnant and postpartum women and their families.”
The information on 30Seconds.com is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information provided through this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider.
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