A report required under legislation enacted in 2015 was submitted to the governor and legislature last month by the Maryland Task Force to Study Maternal Mental Health. It includes fifteen recommendations on a range of issues including patient, provider and public education, expansion of psychiatric consultation programs, screening for perinatal mental illness, expanded peer support and navigation services, increased use of evidence-based treatments, and more. The task force, which includes psychiatrists Albert Zachik, Safiyyah Abdul-Rahman, Catherine Harrison-Restelli, Sara Jeurling, Jennifer Payne and Milena Smith, met eight times to gather information, review resources and develop recommendations, one of which is to create a standing Maternal Mental Health Commission. The complete document is available at the link above.
Legislation has been introduced to address unmet need by developing a comprehensive and robust maternal mental health system of care in Maryland. SB 600 / HB 775 are a direct result of Task Force recommendations. The legislation requires DHMH to collect and disseminate maternal mental health information and tools for the public and practitioners, develop training programs to improve early identification of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and work to expand the Behavioral Health Integration in Pediatric Primary Care psychiatric consultation program to address the mental health needs of pregnant and postpartum women.