WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following the release of a CDC report that showed a sharp increase in maternal mortality in 2021, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a video press conference to raise awareness of her National Maternal Mental Health Hotline and call for its full implementation. The hotline provides free, 24/7 support to women and their families during and after pregnancy Gillibrand is pushing to expand public awareness of the hotline so that it can reach more women in need.
“Pregnancy and the postpartum period can be exceptionally challenging, but help is available for moms who are struggling or just need support,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I worked to establish the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline so that women experiencing a maternal mental health condition have somewhere to turn for free, confidential care any time of day or night. I urge anyone who needs help to take advantage of this resource, and I will continue to work to improve maternal care and fight the maternal mortality crisis.”
Recent reports by the CDC have shown disturbing increases in maternal mortality rates, particularly for women of color. Maternal deaths rose by 40% between 2020 and 2021, and the maternal death rate for Black women was more than twice the national average. The leading cause of these deaths was maternal mental health conditions, including substance use disorder, suicide, depression, and birth-related PTSD, but 75% of women with these conditions go untreated.
The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline provides free, confidential, 24/7 support to pregnant and postpartum women facing mental health challenges. Counselors are available by text and phone in English and Spanish and have access to interpreter services that can support 60 other languages. They are licensed or certified and are trained to provide culturally appropriate and trauma-informed support. Counselors are also able to provide referrals to local medical providers. To date, the hotline has helped more than 10,000 women with an average response time of under 1 minute.
The hotline can be reached at 1-833-943-5746 (1-833-9-HELP4MOMS).
Gillibrand is a longstanding champion for better maternal health care. She fought to include her Into the Light for Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Act, which established and funds the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline, in the FY2023 appropriations bill. She supports the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, which includes her Moms Matter Act to invest in community-based programs that provide mental and behavioral health treatments and to provide funding to diversify the maternal mental health and substance use disorder workforce. She leads the Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act, which would develop standardized maternal safety best practices to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity and provide hospitals with the resources to help prevent maternal death and complications before, during, and after childbirth. Gillibrand also secured $17 million in maternal health care funding in the bipartisan FY2021 appropriations package and an additional $42 million in the FY2023 funding package.
Gillibrand has also taken action to address Black maternal mortality and eliminate racial bias in maternal care by advocating for federal funding for evidence-based training programs to reduce implicit bias in maternal health care delivery.
The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter to the Health Resources and Services Administration is available online.