With all of the Mother’s Day flowers and greeting cards, there’s one problem faced by new mothers that’s easy to forget – perinatal depression.
Perinatal depression is a critical health issue for many new mothers. In fact, national studies estimate 1 in 5 women suffer from postpartum depression and related disorders – 80% of whom go undiagnosed and untreated because they are uninsured, underinsured, or lack access to comprehensive health care. There may be as many as 800,000 new cases in the United States each year.
Because the State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior Leagues of California, a non-partisan, volunteer organization representing 11,000 League members throughout the state, has done something about it, May is now Perinatal Depression Awareness Month in California. A small step to addressing a big problem? Perhaps. But an important start to increasing awareness of this issue in the country’s biggest state.
“This legislation addresses a significant women’s health and public awareness problem,” said Assemblymember Pedro Nava, who co-sponsored the bill. “It comes after 18 months of advocacy work by SPAC and individual Junior Leagues in California. By naming the month of May Perinatal Depression Awareness Month, I hope to facilitate public discussion, increased awareness and access for women and their families to important healthcare services.” He adds, “The Junior Leagues’ support was critical, and I thank the leaders of SPAC for their time and energy in bringing this often misunderstood issue to a wider audience.”
Collectively, the 17 Junior Leagues of California already contribute over $1.2 million and thousands of volunteer hours into their local communities each year. SPAC takes that civic leadership a step further by supporting state legislation in four focus areas – education, health, family support and domestic violence prevention – while working with nearly 100 community programs that assist women and families throughout the state. But CA SPAC is not alone in bringing the League’s mission of civic leadership to state capitols around the country. Other active Junior League Public Affairs Committees include:
- The Junior Leagues of New Jersey State Public Affairs Committee who recently advocated for legislation to declare March “Childhood Obesity Prevention Awareness” month in their state. NJ SPAC celebrated this victory by hosting a Kids’ Iron Chef challenge. In attendance were Senator Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Union), Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen), a primary sponsor of the newlegislation, Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs and Councilor Adrian Mapp.
- The Junior Leagues of Florida State Public Affairs Committee who are advocating for passage of Florida Senate Bill 1404 and Florida House Bill 357, which will extend current child car safety regulations to children ages four to seven.
- The Junior League of Denver Public Policy Committee Healthy whose legislative efforts led to passage of the Healthy Choices Dropout Prevention program (Senate Bill 09-123) which will develop a pilot after-school program to enhance academic achievement and physical and mental health of Colorado’s adolescent students, encourage healthy choices, and reduce dropout rates.
For additional information read this Mallika Chopra article on the Huffington Post.