Lawmakers are calling for extensive data on maternal mental health programs to examine their effectiveness, following an alarming spike in the country’s maternal mortality rate.
In a letter to the Health Resources and Services Administration led by Maternity Care Caucus co-chairs Reps. Young Kim (R-Calif.) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), lawmakers requested data on the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline one year after the program started.
They also requested data on the Screening and Treatment for Maternal Depression and Related Behavioral Health Disorders (MDRDB) program overseen by the Health Resources & Services Administration.
The lawmakers called for qualitative and quantitative data on the two programs.
The request comes after recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that the U.S. had one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the country’s history. The data found that 1,205 people died of maternal causes in the U.S. in 2021, a 40 percent increase from the previous year.
According to the National Institute of Health, suicide and overdoses account for 20 percent of maternal deaths in the U.S.
The lawmakers also noted that mental health conditions are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth, impacting at least 1 in 5 women, according to the American Hospital Association.
Lawmakers have called for attention and action on the maternal mental health crisis in recent years, especially to combat its impact on people of color.
Data has shown that Black birthing people are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts, and Black infants are twice as likely to die within their first year compared to white infants.
Leading members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus last month introduced resolutions to nationally recognize Black Maternal Health week in an effort to bring attention to maternal mortality in pregnant people of color.