Policy Analysis of Illinois Public Act 105-0574: Perinatal Mental Health

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Samantha Marjorie Noehre


Maternal mental health is a major public health issue. Approximately 14.5 percent, or one in seven, mothers are affected by perinatal depression (perinatal is considered the period from pregnancy up to 12 months after child birth. (Gaynes, B. N., Gavin, N., Meltzer-Brody, S., Lohr, K.N., Swinson, T., Gartlehner, G., & Miller, W. C., 2005). Along with perinatal depression,perinatal anxiety disorders are prevalent among women. The rates and types of perinatal anxietydisorders vary considerably and include, but are not limited to, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, panic, and social anxiety disorders (O’Hara, M. &Wisner, K., 2014).While not nearly as common, postpartum psychosis is another serious mental illness affecting 1-2 in 1,000 women, and it occurs rapidly after birth (O’Hara et. al, 2014).

Universal health screenings – a public health approach to detect mental health disorders among women – are used to detect the prevalence of perinatal mood disorders. Several states have taken the initiative to mandate screenings for perinatal mood disorders among perinatal women; these states include New Jersey, West Virginia, Massachusetts, and Illinois (Rowan, J.P., Duckett, A.S., & Wang, E.J., 2014). Illinois legislators in particular introduced several pieces ofcompelling legislation to address perinatal disorders, such as the state’s Perinatal Mental HealthDisorders Prevention and Treatment Act of 2008 (Rhodes, A., & Segre, L., 2013). A more recentpiece of maternal mental health legislation is Illinois Public Act 105-0574, enacted on Jan. 8,2018 and enforced on June 1, 2018. The law allows postpartum depression or postpartumpsychosis to be considered as a mitigating factor in forcible felonies committed by women whowere suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis at the time of the offense, andevidence of their postpartum depression or psychosis was not presented at their trials orsentencing. This legislation is significant in that it is the first of its kind to pass in the UnitedStates. This policy analysis describes the strengths and limitations of this policy in its currentform.

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