Utah lawmakers push legislation for maternal mental health

Feb 9, 2023, 1:00 PM | Updated: 4:17 pm
As proclaimed by Gov. Spencer Cox, Utah recognizes February as Maternal Mental Health Month. And as...
Rep. Rosemary Lesser, D-Ogden, left, and Rep. Ashlee Matthews, D-Salt Lake, attend a gathering where February was declared Maternal Mental Health Month at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. HB84 and HB85, sponsored by Lesser, are bills she believes will benefit new mothers. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)
(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — As proclaimed by Gov. Spencer Cox, Utah recognizes February as Maternal Mental Health Month. And as such, Utah lawmakers are pushing to expand legislation related to maternal health.

The advocacy group Maternal Mental Health Policy Committee is hosting an annual press conference to shed light on resources and raise awareness about the legislation surrounding paternity. 

Related: Postpartum depression or anxiety impacts 43% of Utah moms study says

Specifically, organization co-chair Heather Dopp wants to open up the discussion about the 60-day postpartum period covered by Medicaid. 

Dopp said two months isn’t enough time for some mothers to even realize they are going through a mental crisis.

Rep. Rosemary Lessers, D-Ogden, a member of the House Health and Human Services Committee, will speak at the conference about H.B. 84, the bill she has sponsored that extends the current 60-day period to 12 months. 

Related: In Utah, more women are likely to attempt suicide than men

Exposure to resources, Dopp said, as well as more overall knowledge about maternal mental health can help mothers feel more comfortable receiving screenings.

“Half the battle is getting women screened in the first place,” she said. 

Mothers without Medicaid may have a severe postpartum diagnosis that could go untreated due to lack of health care. Dopp said this further warrants an extension of the 60-day period. 

“For us, the whole goal is awareness and decreasing stigma,” said Dopp. “I’ve had meetings with lawmakers … where we discuss issues like postpartum depression and almost always they’ll say ‘oh I know someone who has gone through that.'”

Additionally, the conference will also provide information about HB. 415, backed by Rep. Ashlee Mathews, D-Salt Lake City that includes coverage of doula services. And mothers surviving postpartum depression will speak about their experience. 

Listen to KSL NewsRadio’s coverage of the Maternal Mental Health Policy Committee’s annual press conference. Live now! 


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Utah lawmakers push legislation for maternal mental health