A recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is bringing new attention to postpartum depression and its treatment. The government panel, whose expert members are appointed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says women should be screened for depression both during pregnancy and after giving birth. The decision means that screening must now be treated by health plans as a covered service under the Affordable Care Act.
The recommendation marks the first time the task force has suggested screening for maternal mental illness. But it reflects a growing recognition of the condition – and mothers’ need for access to screening and treatment. Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) introduced in 2015 the Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act, a bill designed to help states better detect and treat the condition. She called the task force’s recommendation “a major turning point in how we care for families.”