Policy Options to Advance Mental Health Care During Pregnancy

October 29, 2021

This briefing examined the difference between perinatal health and perinatal mental health and their intrinsic relationship. Panelists dove into factors contributing to perinatal health and mental health as well as policy levers and promising solutions available to stakeholders to reduce and prevent mental health symptoms and mood disorders. Attendees learned about the existing policy levers and recent legislation, their promise, and tradeoffs in reducing mental health symptoms and harm among expecting parents.

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) offered opening remarks and discussed the importance of perinatal mental health and why it is of top priority for their constituents.


  • Joy Burkhard, MBA, Executive Director, 2020 Mom
  • Veronica Gillispie-Bell, M.D., Senior Site Lead/Section Head, Women’s Services, Ochsner Kenner and Medical Director, Louisiana Perinatal Quality Collaborative and Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review
  • Carrie Hanlon, MA, Project Director, National Academy for State Health Policy
  • Kay Matthews, Founder, Shades of Blue
  • Sarah J. Dash, MPH, President and CEO, Alliance for Health Policy (moderator)

Event Resources

Key Resources

(listed chronologically, beginning with the most recent)

“Maternal Mental Health: Strategies to Address Societal and Structural Challenges.” Kirby, J., Slone, S. The Council of State Governments. October 8, 2021. Available here.

“Pathways to Equitable and Antiracist Maternal Mental Health Care: Insights from Black Women Stakeholders.” Matthews, K., Morgan, I., Davis, K., et al. Health Affairs. October 2021. Available here.

“Birthing While Black: Examining America’s Black Maternal Health Crisis.” House Committee on Oversight and Reform. May 6, 2021. Available here.

“Depression During and After Pregnancy.” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 2021. Available here.

“A Significant Solution for Maternal Mental Health: Certified Peer Specialists Issue Brief.” 2020 Mom. 2021. Available here.

“Societal Costs of Untreated Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders in the United States.” Lee Luca, D., Garlow, N., Staatz, C., et al. Mathematica. April 2019. Available here.

“State Options for Promoting Recovery among Pregnant and Parenting Women with Opioid Substance Use Disorder.” Normile, B., Hanlon, C., Eichner, H. National Academy for State Health Policy. October 2018. Available here.

Recent Congressional Proposals

“H.R. 5376- Build Back Better Act.” Office of Congressman John Yarmuth. September 27, 2021. Available here.

“S. 2588, H.R. 4916- Protect Moms from Domestic Violence Act.” Office of Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Congresswoman Gwen Moore. August 3, 2021. Senate version available here. House version available here.

“H.R. 1892- Violence Against Women Extension Act of 2021.” Office of Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. March 12, 2021. Available here.

“S. 346, H.R. 959- Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021. Office of Senator Cory Booker and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood. February 2021. Senate version available here. House version available here.

“S. 484, H.R. 909- Moms Matter Act.” Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester. February 2021. Senate version available here. House version available here.

“S. 2779, H.R. 4217- TRIUMPH for New Moms Act of 2021.” Office of Senator Maggie Hassan and Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragan. 2021. Senate version available here. House version available here.

“TRIUMPH for New Moms Act to Build Strategy for Improved Mental Health of U.S. Mothers.” PRNewswire. June 29, 2021. Available here.

“Saving the Lives of Women and Mothers with Congresswoman Lauren Underwood.” Federation of American Hospitals. September 8, 2020. Available here.

Additional Resources

(listed chronologically, beginning with the most recent)

“Medicaid Postpartum Coverage Extension.” KFF. October 21, 2021. Available here.

“Restoring Maternal Mental Health.” American Hospital Association. October 13, 2021. Available here.

“Mental Health Resource Guide for State Policymakers.” The Council of State Governments. October 8, 2021. Available here.

“Meta-Analysis of Antenatal Depression and Adverse Birth Outcomes in US Populations, 2010-20.” Simonovich, S., Nidey, N., Gavin, A, et al. Health Affairs. October 2021. Available here.

“Mental Health Conditions Increase Severe Maternal Morbidity by 50 Percent and Cost $102 Million Yearly in the United States.” Brown, C., Adams, C., George, K., Moore, J. Health Affairs. October 2021. Available here.

“Perinatal Mental Health and More.” Weil, A. Health Affairs. October 2021. Available here.

“AHA News: Prenatal Stress Can Program a Child’s Brain for Later Health Issues.” American Heart Association News. May 6, 2021. Available here.

“Perinatal Depression Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment Guideline.” Kaiser Permanente. April 2021. Available here.

“AMA Advocacy to Improve Maternal Health.” American Medical Association. 2021. Available here.

“Perinatal Mental Health: A Review of Progress and Challenges.” Howard, L., Khalifeh, H. World Psychiatry. October 2020. Available here.

“Innovation Landscape: Maternity Care Medi-Cal.” Simon, M. California Health Care Foundation. August 28, 2020. Available here.

“Building a Successful Program for Medi-Cal Coverage for Doula Care: Findings from a Survey of Doulas in California.” Chen, A., Robles-Fradet, A. National Health Law Program. May 21, 2020. Available here.

“Discussions of Miscarriage and Preterm Births on Twitter.” Cesare, N., Oladeji, O., Ferryman, K., et al. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. January 8, 2020. Available here.

“eConsult for Psychiatrists Treating Perinatal Women with Serious Mental Illnesses: A Los Angeles County Pilot Project.” Dossett, E., Benitez, C., Garcia, N. California Health Care Foundation. December 2019. Available here.

“Screening for Perinatal Depression.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. November 2018. Available here.

“American Indian and Alaska Native Maternal and Infant Mortality: Challenges and Opportunities.” Truschel, L., Novoa, C. Center for American Progress. July 9, 2018. Available here.

“Does a mother’s mental health affect her fetus?” American Enterprise Institute. October 26, 2017. Available here.



Joy Burkhard, MBA
2020 Mom, Founder and Executive Director

Veronica Gillispie-Bell, M.D., FACOG, M.S.
Ochsner Medical Center, Head of Women’s Services

Carrie Hanlon, MPP
National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), Project Director

Kay Matthews, LCHW
Shades of Blue, Founder

Experts and Analysts

Jeffrey Goldhagen, M.D., MPH
University of Florida College of Medicine- Jacksonville, Chief of the Division of Community and Societal Pediatrics

Katy Kozhimannil. Ph.D., MPA
University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Division of Health Policy and Management

Catherine Monk, Ph.D.
Columbia University, Professor of Medical Psychology, Director of Women’s Mental Health in Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Psychiatry

Shannon Simonovich, Ph.D., R.N.
DePaul College of Science and Health, School of Nursing, Assistant Professor

Kara Zivin, Ph.D., M.S., M.A
Mathematica, Senior Researcher
Department of Psychiatry University of Michigan Medical School, Professor


David Goodman, Ph.D., M.S.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Reproductive Health, Maternal Mortality Prevention Team, Team Lead

Kimberly Sherman, MPH, MPP
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Chief of Maternal and Women’s Health Branch

Ellen-Marie Whelan, Ph.D., NP, RN
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, US Department of Health and Human Services, Chief Population Health Officer


Amy Chen, J.D.
National Health Law Program, Senior Staff Attorney

Wendy Davis, Ph.D.
Postpartum Support International, Executive Director

Janina Fariñas, Ph.D., Psy., LPC
La Cocina, Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Amy Hamberger
AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia, Director of Women’s Health

Jennie Joseph
Commonsense Childbirth School of Midwifery, Founder and Director

Jennifer Moore
Institute for Medicaid Innovation, Founding Executive Director


This is an unedited transcript.