Support the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Mother's Act
Mother’s Day is May 11 this year. As your loved ones come together to celebrate all the mothers in your family, we should remember those mothers in our communities who struggle with postpartum depression.
If you have been following “My Volunteer Year” in GFWC Clubwoman magazine, you know that Allison Yezek, a member of the GFWC Junior Women’s Club of Charlotte, North Carolina, has chosen PPD as her Passion Project. Postpartum depression is very common. According to the American Medical Association, 14.5% of new mothers experience some type of PPD and for many women the effects can be debilitating.
Right now there is a bill being considered in the U.S. Senate, S 1375, the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Mother’s Act, which would encourage research and treatment for women who suffer from PPD by providing funding to the National Institutes of Health and establish a public awareness campaign about the illness. The bill is named after Melanie Blocker Stokes, a woman who suffered from severe PPD and committed suicide a few months after giving birth. The companion bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 382-3 last November.
In March of last year, during the New Jersey State Federation’s legislative day on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., club members met with Senator Robert Menendez, the bill’s original Senate sponsor. Senator Menendez asked for their help in getting the bill moving and they have heeded his call. Currently the bill is stalled in the Heath, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee with no hearings scheduled.
If you are interested in helping move the bill on for a Floor vote in the Senate, please contact the HELP Committee at 202-224-5375 and tell them that S 1375, the Mother’s Act, is an important bill for women’s health and deserves a hearing.
Both Allison and NJ club members have taken this on as a priority issue and other club women should feel free to do the same! Read more about PPD at the Journal of the American Medical Association or Postpartum Support International.
You can also keep up with Allison Yezak’s experiences with taking on PPD. She posts regularly about her Passion Project on her blog at My Volunteer Year. Maybe you can get some ideas for starting your own volunteer year too!