With HB 253, Texas Law Moves to Improve Access to Postpartum Depression TreatmentOctober 21, 2019
Texas health authorities now have a new directive to improve the resources available to women suffering from postpartum depression. This is thanks to a new law, House Bill (HB) 253, which took effect September 1st.
Unanimously passed by the Texas Legislature, this law has created a mandate for the state’s Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to:
- Develop and implement a new, recurring five-year strategic plan for enhancing access to postpartum depression screening, treatment, referral, and support services
- Work with other state authorities in this effort, including the Department of State Health Services, the Statewide Behavioral Health Coordinating Council, and others.
The first strategic plan must be completed by September 1, 2020.
How the New Texas Law Intends to Improve Access to Postpartum Depression Treatment
To address postpartum depression, the new Texas law has set forth several requirements for the HHSC strategic plan. Specifically, the plan must provide details regarding how authorities will:
- Increase awareness about the incidence, prevalence, and impacts of postpartum depression, both among the public and other state authorities
- Create community-based referral networks of health care providers and support services that address this condition
- Improve access to peer-run postpartum depression support services, both formal and informal in nature
- Effectively use funding to support postpartum depression resources and services.
While the strategic plan must account for a five-year period, the HHSC is required to review the plan annually and update it, as needed.
New Texas Postpartum Depression Law Has Strong Support, Little Opposition
With widespread support among health care organizations, women’s advocacy groups, and many others, HB 1518 has been lauded for making a bold move to:
- Reduce the stigma surrounding postpartum depression
- Encourage those who suffer from this condition to get the help they need
- Reduce taxpayers’ costs by offering more affordable resources and preventative care, thereby limiting the number of mothers and children who seek emergency room treatment for postpartum depression complications
- Save lives—While at least 1 in every 7 new mothers suffers from postpartum depression,1 about 1 in every 5 postpartum deaths is the result of suicide.2
While some opponents fear that the new postpartum depression law doesn’t offer enough in the way of funding, others worry that HB 1518 may not go far enough to address other mental health issues that affect new mothers.
Despite some criticism, however, many are hopeful that the new Texas law will be effective at addressing the condition and its deadly impacts. As Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston), co-author of HB 1518, has explained:
The solutions in this strategic plan will increase the number of women successfully treated for postpartum depression and help to decrease the maternal mortality rate in Texas.
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