Issue: Mental health disorders among pregnant and postpartum women are on the rise, yet many women do not seek or receive treatment due to numerous barriers. Those receiving care often get an inconsistent message about preventative measures or whether to continue psychiatric medications during pregnancy. Untreated mental illness among mothers can have profound consequences for succeeding generations and society and perpetuate long-in-grained detrimental drivers of health.
• Goal: Provide maternal mental health policy options and solutions for state leaders.
• Methods: Review existing challenges, statutes, regulations, policies, programs, interventions, and potential avenues for action and international solutions.
• Key Findings: Significant policy challenges include provider shortages, barriers to access, a lack of psychiatric medication best practices, and varying state approaches to postpartum care. Policy solutions address insurance coverage, screening, and continued education for medical professionals and patients. Policymakers can seek to expand telehealth, strengthen postpartum care, require screenings, address workforce shortages, and seek to prevent the long-term effects of adverse childhood experiences.
• Conclusion: The issues in maternal health are challenging but the urgency of addressing them is real and the opportunities for policy and programmatic solutions are plentiful. Among them are policies to address mental health workforce shortages, expand care during the postpartum period, increase maternal depression screening, and mitigate the long-term effects of adverse childhood experiences.