Senate Bill Sheds Some Light On Maternal Mental Health
For many parents, no stone is left unturned when preparing to have a child. There are books, classes, and blogs to prepare both mother and father for almost anything. But, there is an often overlooked condition mothers may have once their child is born, and a bill in the Florida Senate looks to shed some light on this.
Lina Acosta Sandaal is a Marriage and Family Therapist who once suffered from an overlooked side effect of childbirth.
“In 2005, I sat on the floor of my baby’s room, and I planned my suicide. I wanted it to look like an accident; so that my child, and my husband, wouldn’t feel the pain of the possibility that I had committed suicide,” she says.
Sandaal was suffering from postnatal depression.
“Now, I had everything. I had the toys. I had the family. I had an amazing community surrounding me. But, I had just spent 34 days in the NQ, and nobody spoke to me about postpartum disorders,” Sandaal says.
She was able to get the help she needed and eventually founded Stop Parenting Alone, spreading the word on postpartum disorders, like postnatal depression. However, to her surprise, the subject matter was not taken very seriously. She spoke about an experience she had on Telemundo’s morning show.
“Do you know how much I have to pull teeth to get them to let me do a segment on postpartum? And then, when they finally let me do a segment they were like: ‘Let’s do it on men’. (Laughs). I was like ‘oh okay yeah, they get postpartum disorders as well. So, whatever you want’. And so far I’ve only done a segment on Telemundo’s national morning show on the possibility of postpartum disorders in men, but they saw it as a cute different thing. And that says so much,” she says.
This lack of understanding and representation has led to Senate Bill 138. It requires the Department of Health to create public service announcements on perinatal mental health care. It also requires that birth centers add a mental health screening to their postpartum evaluations. Something that the bill’s sponsor, Senator Lauren Book (D-Broward), says has gone completely overlooked.
“The fact that there are only eight postpartum psychosis beds in the country. We can do better we must do better. There’s a lot of misinformation, a lot of things we don’t understand and don’t know about postpartum depression,” Book says.
The bill also establishes two toll-free hotlines. One is for parents dealing with a postpartum disorder, providing information on the subject matter and directing them to the proper healthcare provider for further evaluation.
The other is for the healthcare providers, which Lauren Depaola, owner of Postpartum Wellness and Family Counseling, explains can be most effective.
“What we hear about are most OBGYN’s, who are the experts of health for us as women, maybe get at most one lecture. Hopefully that’s changing in some states, but maybe at most one lecture on the mental health of their patients,” Depaola says.
The bill has one more committee before heading to the floor.