AUSTIN (KXAN) — Many women struggling with postpartum depression aren’t getting the help they need. Texans Care for Children says about half of cases go undetected or undiagnosed.
Lawmakers are paying attention to those numbers. On Tuesday, the Texas House Public Health Committee held a hearing for several bills hoping to help women manage the illness.
“It really impacts their everyday life and a child’s life. If untreated, postpartum depression has devastating effects on families,” said Adriana Kohler, senior health policy associate at Texans Care for Children. “It can affect the mom’s health of course, but also it can affect a child’s safety. A mom may be less likely to put a baby on their back to sleep. It can impact a child’s development, language development and brain growth.”
The non-partisan group is supporting several proposed bills that would help support mothers with postpartum depression.
House Bill 2455, proposed by Rep. Sarah Davis, would provide more mothers with the option to be screened during their baby’s well-check visit with a pediatrician or other primary care provider. When pediatricians see babies covered by Medicaid or CHIP, the law would allow them to bill the insurance company for the depression screening.
“Early detection is critical. Pediatricians play a big role because they see a mom and her child for the first year of a child’s life,” said Kohler.
Another bill hopes to provide postpartum depression coverage through Medicaid one year after a baby is born, and a third bill hopes to create a broader plan for screening and treatment.
Austin mother Rosa Rodriguez is happy to see the issue being taken seriously at the Capitol.
“Most of the time I’m just, I’m crying, and if I’m not crying, I’m hiding from crying,” said Rodriguez. “You can’t really do anything but hold it inside and just kind of wish people understood.”
Rodriguez has three beautiful children, but has seen the ugly side of postpartum depression. She says people who’ve never been through it don’t understand how painful it can be.
“You won’t understand until you actually have a baby inside of you and you’re going through those emotions.”
She also supports medical marijuana for treating the illness. Twenty-eight states allow medical marijuana for a number of conditions, including postpartum depression.
For now, Rodriguez says any additional help in the state would be great for mothers like her. And the proposed bills make her hopeful for her daughter’s futures.
In addition to supporting several proposed bills, Texans Care for Children put out a report outlining 10 steps Texas leaders can take to ensure mothers get the support they need.