First maternal mental health state report cards released

May 5, 2023

Maternal Mental Health disorders like postpartum depression affect roughly 600,000 (20%) of U.S. mothers a year, with Black and other women of color experiencing substantial disparities in rates and access to care. It is estimated that up to 50% of mothers are not diagnosed by a healthcare professional, and that 75% of women never get the treatment they need and that is promised in healthcare coverage contracts.

When left untreated, these disorders can have lasting impacts on women’s wellbeing, family stability, and children’s development. Untreated maternal mental health disorders are estimated to cost the U.S. $14.2 billion annually. To address the gaps, the Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health has—in collaboration with the George Washington University (GW)—created a report card that scores each state's efforts. 

“Because in the United States health delivery is largely overseen by the states, we knew it was time to give states insight into how they are supporting maternal mental health. With a standard set of measures, states can now benchmark their performance against other states and compare their own performance year over year,” said Joy Burkhard, executive director of the Policy Center. 

The report cards grades states in three key domains:

·        Providers and Programs

·         Screening Requirements and Reimbursements

·         Insurance Coverage and Payment

Up to three points are provided for each of the 17 measures within these domains. 

“The results of this first-ever grading system are not good – with 42 states receiving a D or below,” Caitlin Murphy, the research scientist at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health, whose research supported the creation of the report cards, said. “The highest grade any state received was a B, and this was in just one state – California – a where the Policy Center has indicated that significant recent philanthropic, legislative, and advocacy efforts have occurred.” 

GWU release