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Twelve Hospitals Join City's Initiative to Achieve Universal Depression Screening and Treatment for Maternal Depression

April 12, 2016

Twenty-four hospitals citywide now committed, reaching more than 60 percent of new births

NEW YORK—More women will now have greater access to maternal depression screenings as twelve more hospitals join the City’s initiative to screen and treat all pregnant women and new mothers for depression by the end of 2017. At this time, twenty four hospitals throughout the five boroughs are participating in this program announced by First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery in November 2015 as part of ThriveNYC, the City’s roadmap for meeting a growing need for mental health services.

Joining Maimonides Medical Center and 11 NYC Health + Hospitals locations announced in November, the following hospitals are now committed to screenings and treating all patients who are pregnant or have a newborn:

  • Flushing Hospital Medical Center 
  • Northwell - Forest Hills Hospital
  • Northwell Long Island Jewish
  • Northwell Zucker Hillside Hospital
  • NYU Langone Medical Center
  • Jamaica Hospital Medical Center
  • Montefiore Medical Center
  • The Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Mount Sinai Beth Israel Petrie
  • Mount Sinai West, formerly Mt. Sinai Roosevelt
  • New York Methodist Hospital
  • St. John’s Episcopal Hospital

"It is natural to focus on the health and well-being of a brand new baby. But we need to ask how the mom is doing, too. Many mothers struggle during and after their pregnancies, but they remain silent because they don't know help is available and they may fear being labeled a bad mom," said First Lady Chirlane McCray, who leads the City's work on mental health and substance misuse. ‎"Maternal depression is common and treatable. By routinely screening for it, we can make sure mothers and families get the support they need to recover and thrive."

Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery said, “What started at NYC Health + Hospitals and Maimonides as an unprecedented effort to reach out to new mothers and help those in need of treatment and services, has blossomed into a citywide effort thanks to the leadership of the Greater New York Hospital Association. Universal maternal depression screenings is sound public policy. All of our children do better – our city does better – when our mothers are cared for.”

“The growing list of hospitals that are participating in this collaborative affirms the importance of maternal depression screening,” said Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) President Kenneth E. Raske. “These institutions are deeply committed to screening and treating all pregnant women and new mothers for maternal depression, and they join GNYHA in applauding First Lady Chirlane McCray’s vision and leadership in championing this issue.”

“At NYC Health + Hospitals our practice has long been to screen for depression before and after birth, since depression can affect not just the mother but also how parents care for their children,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President Dr. Ram Raju. “To treat a patient, and the patient’s family, holistically you must be attentive to mental health as well as physical health. It’s wonderful that First Lady Chirlane McCray has helped other hospitals sign-on as we seek to make maternal depression screening universal in New York City.”

“The addition of 12 new hospitals to the First Lady’s maternal depression screening initiative is another important step toward universal screening for all pregnant women and new mothers in New York City,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Many new moms and parents can become quickly overwhelmed and screening can ensure that necessary help and interventions are offered immediately. This can only improve the health outcomes of newborns, new moms, and their families.”

At least one in every ten women suffers from maternal depression and while it is very common to have the “baby blues,” severe changes in mood that last longer than two weeks during or after pregnancy might be a sign of maternal depression. Maternal depression is a serious illness that requires emotional support and adequate treatment. Some symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, and overwhelmed
  • Crying a lot
  • Having no energy or motivation
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Trouble focusing, remembering, or making decisions
  • Feeling worthless and guilty
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Having headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations (the heart beating fast and feeling like it is skipping beats), or hyperventilation (fast and shallow breathing)
  • Having thoughts about not wanting to be alive or hurting yourself
  • Being afraid that something terrible might happen to the baby, or even thoughts that you might do something bad to the baby
  • Having trouble feeling connected to the baby the way you want to

Women experiencing symptoms of depression should talk to their doctor or a mental health professional. For more information on maternal depression, visit nyc.gov/health.

Comptroller Scott Stringer said, “For too long, the mental health of pregnant women and new mothers has been ignored and undertreated, affecting countless families across the five boroughs. I applaud the Administration’s efforts to expand the number of hospitals where women can access depression screening and treatment and urge all hospitals in the City to commit to this fundamental public health effort. Our families, and our city, will be stronger for it.”

“We need to shatter the stigma about mental illness and provide mothers with the holistic support they need to flourish with their newborn children,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “Screenings for maternal depression are a critical part of my Family Friendly Brooklyn initiative, and I commend First Lady Chirlane McCray for her efforts to expand these critical health care services in Brooklyn at New York Methodist Hospital and across all of New York City.”

"Maternal depression screening saves lives," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "As we're learning more about maternal depression disorders and developing more effective treatments, we must ensure all women get the opportunity to access the services they need to recover and thrive."

“Guaranteeing depression screenings for every woman – both during the pregnancy and in the weeks after birth – is essential to providing new mothers the treatment and support they need,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “For too long, postpartum depression and the ‘baby blues’ have been minimized or stigmatized. I applaud the First Lady and Deputy Mayor Buery for ensuring that mental health screenings are standard as part of prenatal and postnatal care for all New York women.”

“Access to early detection and treatment of maternal depression is critical to maintaining the health and wellness of new mothers,” said Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke. “I am thrilled that twenty four hospitals throughout New York City have joined the ThriveNYC initiative to provide crucial mental health services during a challenging time. I am particularly happy that New York Methodist Hospital, which is in my district, is one of the twenty four hospitals committed to providing screening for and treatment of mental illness, including maternal depression. I also applaud the leadership of Deputy Mayor Richard Buery and First Lady Chirlane McCray for providing greater access to detection and treatment as our City continues to take a comprehensive and equitable approach to health and wellness.”

Congressman Charles Rangel said, “Maternal depression is real and can debilitate new mothers at a time when they need all the energy to take care of the precious lives they have brought into the world. I am pleased to see twelve more New York hospitals take part in this citywide screening program that will expand access to more women across our city. New mothers experiencing symptoms of depression need not suffer in silence. Treatment at one of New York’s 24 finest hospitals participating in this groundbreaking program will help provide them the treatment they need to recover and thrive.”

Congressman Gregory Meeks said, "I am pleased that Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and St. John’s Episcopal Hospital are two of the 24 hospitals citywide who pledged to join the City’s initiative to screen and treat all pregnant women and new mothers for depression. Ensuring that new mothers are provided with adequate mental health services should be a priority and I am proud that women in New York City and in the 5th Congressional District will now have better access to treatment. I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor’s administration in implementing ThriveNYC’s objectives to address mental health needs throughout our city."

“I am pleased to hear that Montefiore Medical Center has been selected to join NYC’s plan to provide universal depression screening and treatment for new moms. No mother should have to experience maternal or postpartum depression. This new initiative will help pregnant women and new moms receive necessary treatment and support to address their mental health needs. I applaud First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery’s dedication to expanding mental health services in the city and for leading this initiative,” said Congressman Jose Serrano.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said, “Too many new mothers face crushing post-natal depression after the birth of a child, and way too many of those who are suffering never know that help is available. I’m proud that so many New York hospitals are recognizing the need to provide access to screening for depression for new mothers and taking a lead in providing this care – it should be a basic and routine part of all post-natal treatment.”

State Senator Liz Krueger said, “Today’s announcement is a great step forward for moms, babies, and families in New York City; it means that far fewer women will suffer in silence with undiagnosed and untreated maternal depression. I continue to advocate at the state level for greater resources to identify and treat maternal depression, and I’m very pleased that New York City is taking the lead in moving toward universal screening. Thank you to First Lady Chirlane McCray for her leadership, and to all the hospitals participating in this vital program”

State Senator Kevin S. Parker said, "I am proud to learn that Methodist Hospital is among the additional 24 hospitals throughout New York City that will be affording women depression screening and treatment services for maternal depression. It is important that we continue to provide as many resources as possible for pregnant women and new mothers as we know that their mental health is as equally important as their physical health. I commend First Lady Chirlane McCray, First Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, and ThriveNYC for this initiative and I look forward to seeing further expansion of the program in the near future."

"For too long, maternal depression has been stigmatized and dismissed as a disease not to take seriously," said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. "I am so pleased First Lady Chirlane McCray has initiated a universal depression screening and treatment for pregnant women and new mothers suffering from depression and that the program will be brought to two hospitals in my district – Northwell Forest Hills and Flushing Hospital Medical Center. It is important that our city continue to support women and all who suffer from depression or any other mental illness. It is about time we take these feelings of worthlessness, guilt and sadness as serious conditions and treat them as such. Prevention and treatment is always the best approach to mental illness"

“I’m proud that the Montefiore Medical Center is joining our City’s initiative to help identify pregnant women and new mothers suffering from maternal depression in order to ensure they receive the adequate support, resources and treatment to overcome such a complex mental health disorder,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “I commend First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery for working to destigmatize depression once for all and ensure new families across our city receive the support they need.”  

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “Maternal depression is a critical public health issue that can profoundly affect the long-term health of both mother and child. This initiative by First Lady McCray, utilizing New York City’s expansive health infrastructure to provide necessary resources to pregnant women and new moms – including those right here in my district – will be essential in tackling this pressing health crisis. I want to thank First Lady McCray for her advocacy on issues of mental health, express my gratitude to New York Health + Hospitals, Maimonides, and the Greater New York Hospital Association.” 

"I am proud of the efforts put forth by First Lady McCray and Deputy Mayor Buery ensuring greater access to facilities providing maternal depression screenings, one of which being Northwell-Forest Hills Hospital located in my district. I look forward to our continued work together for those in need of mental health resources," said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, Chair of Social Services Committee.

"I'm glad to see our great local hospitals taking part in this important initiative," said Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, "And I thank Chirlane McCray for her inspiring work to raise awareness of maternal depression as a health issue, and to ensure we are as committed to providing access to high quality mental health care as we are to other services that people need to be healthy."

Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez said, "Maternal depression remains one of the most serious and often overlooked mental health issues across the nation. We applaud First Lady Chirlane McCray and NYC Health + Hospitals for expanding access for women to obtain screenings and treatment for maternal depression. Depression, particularly for new mothers, can be a life-threatening situation and this advancement is crucial in ensuring that they and their families will get the care they need."

“In the past six months there have been two fatal incidents in my district that could have been prevented had there been more resources dedicated to postpartum screening and treatment,” said Assembly Member Victor M. Pichardo. “I commend First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery for spearheading an initiative that continues to gain momentum, and I encourage all hospitals to provide this much needed service.”

Assembly Member Edward C. Braunstein said, “It is very important that pregnant women and new mothers understand that maternal depression is not uncommon and help is available to them. I would like to thank First Lady Chirlane McCray and Northwell Health's Zucker Hillside Hospital for working to ensure that vital maternal depression services are available to the residents of Northeast Queens.”

“As the Assemblyman representing the 24th Assembly District in Queens, I am glad to see that the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center has been added to the list of NYC hospitals that offer maternal depression screening” said Assembly Member David Weprin. “I applaud First Lady Chirlane McCray for leading this effort to make the valuable screening and treatment for maternal depression universal.”

Assembly Member Ron Kim said, “I want to thank First Lady Chirlane McCray for her persistent efforts to address mental health needs in our city. As a father of a 16-month daughter with a second child on the way, I have seen first-hand how mentally and emotionally difficult it can be for new mothers before and after giving birth. I am glad that Flushing Hospital Medical Center is one of the hospitals joining ThriveNYC's efforts, and I encourage all hospitals to participate in this initiative.”

“Far too many women fail to seek treatment for maternal depression. Implementing these screenings at hospitals across the city is a step in the right direction in the fight to improve women’s mental health. There has been little conversation about this important issue until the First Lady brought it into the spotlight through ThriveNYC, I applaud her leadership in this initiative,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health.

"We owe it to moms to look after their health and well-being, in addition to that of babies," said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Council's Committee on Health. "Maternal depression is both common and treatable, and it's important that our health care system recognizes that and is equipped to address it. I thank First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery‎ for their leadership on this important issue."

"New York City is leading the way on increasing access to mental health services for pregnant women and new moms," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "I applaud NYU Langone for joining Bellevue and the growing list of hospitals participating in this initiative, and I look forward to the day that screening for maternal depression is simply routine. I want to thank First Lady Chirlane McCray for her leadership on this issue." 

Council Member Brad Lander said, "I've seen the painful effects of post-partum depression in those I love, and the extraordinary value of early diagnosis and treatment. So I'm really encouraged that New York Methodist Hospital will be screening for depression. Thanks to First Lady Chirlane McCray for taking leadership that will help moms, kids, and families thrive."

"As a brand new father of my first child, I know all too well how stressful a pregnancy can be for the entire family, but there cannot be enough services available for our mothers, who carry a large percentage of the stress that comes along with adding a new member to the family," said Council Member Donovan Richards. "I'd like to thank the First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery for initiating the focus on mental health services across the city and continuing to expand them to hospitals, particularly at St. John's Episcopal and Jamaica Medical Center, since my residents have limited options for healthcare in and around the district."

Council Member Karen Koslowitz said, “I would like to thank the Mayor and First Lady Chirlane McCray for recognizing the necessity for screening and the treatment of maternal depression. I am especially appreciative for the expansion of the program to include two hospitals in my district, Northwell-Forest Hills and the Jamaica Medical Hospital Center. As a woman I am aware that expectant mothers can experience fears, and depression may follow the birth of a baby. These mothers may feel helpless in dealing with this malady with nowhere to turn for assistance. Once again, I am grateful that two hospitals have been designated in my district giving women the opportunity to seek help and support in combatting maternal depression.”

Council Member Peter Koo said, “Postpartum depression is a common, but serious condition that is too often stigmatized and cast off as a passing phase. It is important to make sure new moms are afforded opportunities for screening and treatment, especially in immigrant communities where mental health disorders are considered taboo.”

Council Member Fernando Cabrera said, “A critical part of meeting the health needs of children is ensuring that their mothers’ health needs – both physical and mental – are met. It is time that we recognize this and expand our definition of basic pre- and postnatal care to include mental health screening and treatment. I applaud the Administration for their efforts to achieve this through the ThriveNYC initiative.”

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