TRENTON – The third anniversary of legislation that requires health care professionals who provide postnatal care to screen new mothers for postpartum depression recently occurred – making New Jersey still the only state in the nation to mandate this type of screening.
The law was enacted a year after the launch of Speak Up When You’re Down, a campaign put in place by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) for New Jersey mothers who were experiencing postpartum depression (PPD).
Today, thousands of mothers have turned to New Jersey’s resources for help before, during and after pregnancy. More than 4,300 calls have been fielded through a statewide PPD Helpline (1-800-328-3838) that operates 24 hours per day, seven days a week to provide additional resources and information to New Jersey residents. Traffic on the campaign’s web site (www.njspeakup.gov) has exceeded 351,000 visits since NJDHSS launched the site in July 2005.
This spring, the NJDHSS ushered in a new era of the Speak Up When You’re Down campaign, incorporating measures that will allow it to reach even more women and health care professionals. Among them:
• A new palm card to inform women about the signs and resources available for perinatal mood disorders is being distributed throughout beauty salons, YMCAs, Jewish Community Centers and other fitness facilities across the state.
• A redesign of www.njspeakup.gov, the campaign’s web site. The new site will feature new, compelling testimonial videos from women who survived PPD, a searchable database of resources available across the state and much more.
• An educational conference took place in May for healthcare and social service providers, entitled “On the Front Line of Perinatal Mood Disorders.”The event included notable experts in the field who prepared these professionals to recognize and treat women who are suffering from perinatal mood disorders.
PPD can affect any woman who has recently had a baby, ended a pregnancy, miscarried or stopped breast-feeding. One woman in eight will experience PPD. In New Jersey between 11,000 and 16,000 women suffer from PPD every year. Up to 80 percent of new mothers experience some form of the baby blues, which involve feelings of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, or moodiness that normally go away within a couple of weeks.
Perinatal mood disorders are treatable, and many counseling and treatment resources are available in New Jersey. Speaking up is the first step. If you or someone you know may be experiencing signs of depression, visit www.njspeakup.gov or call 1-800-328-3838 for additional information and services.
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