New Jersey Senate committee advances maternal mental health bills

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The New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee recently advanced two bills designed to improve access to maternal mental health services.

The first bill would require the Department of Health to develop and implement a plan for improving access to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders screening, referral, treatment, and support services.

The second bill would require the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services to identify federal funding that supports maternal mental health and take appropriate steps to secure this funding.

The bills were sponsored by state Sens. Sandra Bolden Cunningham (D-Hudson), Nellie Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic), and M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex).

“Many women struggle with anxiety and depression during or after their pregnancy,” Cunningham said. “Unfortunately, the stigma around mental illness and the general belief that having a baby should be a joyful time in one’s life, make it hard for new and expecting mothers to admit they’re in need of help. This legislation will assist in identifying those women and connecting them with services that meet their needs and fit their lifestyle.”

The bills move to the full Senate for consideration.

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