“Not Good” – Results From First-Ever Maternal Health Report Card Released

Sad Woman and Child

Maternal mental health refers to the emotional and psychological well-being of women during pregnancy and after childbirth. It is a critical aspect of women’s health that often goes overlooked, yet can have a profound impact on the mother, the baby, and the family as a whole.

The Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health, working in partnership with George Washington University, is releasing the inaugural assessment of state initiatives to tackle maternal mental health. The findings reveal that 42 states have received a grade of D or lower.

Approximately 600,000 (20%) U.S. mothers suffer from maternal mental health disorders such as postpartum depression each year, with Black and other minority women facing significant disparities in both their rates of occurrence and access to proper care. It is believed that up to half of these mothers are not diagnosed by a healthcare professional, and that a staggering 75% of women do not receive the necessary treatment outlined in their health insurance coverage.

If left unaddressed, maternal mental health disorders can have detrimental effects on women’s health, family stability, and the development of children. The yearly cost to the United States from untreated maternal mental illness is estimated to be $14.2 billion.

To address the gaps the Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health has, in collaboration with the George Washington University (GW), created a report card that scores each state’s efforts.

Maternal Mental Health State Report Cards

The inaugural Maternal Mental Health Report Card provides the first-ever comprehensive view into the state of maternal mental health in America. Credit: The Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health

“Because in the United States health delivery is largely overseen by the states, we knew it was time to give states insight into how they are supporting maternal mental health. With a standard set of measures, states can now benchmark their performance against other states and compare their own performance year over year,” Joy Burkhard, Executive Director of the Policy Center, said.

The report cards grades states in three key domains:

  1. Providers and Programs
  2. Screening Requirements and Reimbursements
  3. Insurance Coverage and Payment

Up to three points are provided for each of the 17 measures within these domains.

“The results of this first-ever grading system are not good – with 42 states receiving a D or below,” Caitlin Murphy, the research scientist at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health, whose research supported the creation of the report cards, said. “The highest grade any state received was a B-, and this was in just one state – California – where the Policy Center has indicated that significant recent philanthropic, legislative, and advocacy efforts have occurred.”

Reference: “Inaugural Maternal Mental Health State Report Card.

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