27 Dec Opinion: Veto of bill hurts efforts to treat depression
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo made a grave error by vetoing Assembly Bill 7667-B, which would have directed state officials to develop a maternal-depression screening and referral plan, and to provide maternal-depression education.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that postpartum depression affects up to 20 percent of mothers within the first year after giving birth. The rate of depression for mothers living in poverty is close to a staggering 50 percent.
Mental health experts agree that constancy of relationship from early childhood is the single best predictor of positive outcomes in later life. Promoting safe and warm relationships with parents and other caregivers is critical to young children’s healthy development and later success in school and beyond.
Leaving screening, education and referral to the discretion of practitioners, as a result of Cuomo’s veto, is a roll of the dice and a step toward destabilizing families, compromising the well-being of newborns, marginalizing mothers with maternal depression and putting their lives at risk. The bill would have widened the safety net.
Editor’s note: The writer is the director of North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center in Roslyn Heights, which operates the Diane Goldberg Maternal Depression Program in Manhasset.