Massachusetts Medical Society: The MMS Advocates for Perinatal Mental Health Care

The MMS Advocates for Perinatal Mental Health Care


Recognizing the need for comprehensive care that addresses the mental health needs of patients during pregnancy and the postpartum period, the Massachusetts Medical Society is actively engaged in legislative advocacy at the state level to expand affordability and access to these critical services.

As part of this effort, the MMS joined “Mind the Gap,” a statewide coalition of more than thirty organizations that are committed to passing the Massachusetts Moms Matter Act (H.1984/ S.1261). This legislation calls for two new grant programs to expand and diversify the perinatal mental health workforce and to invest in community programs that support the mental health and well-being of birthing people and other new parents.

Dr. Nicole A. Smith
Dr. Nicole A. Smith

The MMS was represented at the July legislative hearing on this bill by Nicole A. Smith, MD, MPH, an obstetrician specializing in high-risk pregnancy and Chair of the MMS Committee on Maternal and Perinatal Welfare. Growing the perinatal mental health workforce, Dr. Smith testified, “will directly impact the short- and long-term health of families, address our current pandemics of mental health disorders and substance use disorders, positively impact our workforce, and maintain our state’s position as a thought leader nationally in health care legislation.”

Newly released data from the state Department of Public Health on the doubling of severe maternal morbidity in Massachusetts over the last decade, as well as widening disparities in outcomes for Black mothers, underscores the need for urgent action to improve care for Black and Brown birthing people, including in behavioral health. Importantly, the Moms Matter Act was filed in January by State Senator Liz Miranda and State Representative Brandy Fluker Oakley in response to a report issued last year by the Massachusetts Special Commission on Racial Inequities in Maternal Health that called for integrating more culturally competent mental health professionals in the maternal health care system. The Medical Society was represented on this commission by the accomplished Charles L. Anderson, MD, MPH, MBA, the president and CEO of the Dimock Center, and is proud to support efforts to codify this important policy recommendation into law.

In addition to the Moms Matter Act, the MMS submitted a letter of legislative testimony in strong support of a bill (H.2163/S.1375) to require insurance carriers to cover postpartum depression (PPD) screening in pediatric offices up to twelve months after delivery. This proposal is consistent with policy adopted at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the House of Delegates that directs the Medical Society to support legislation that mandates insurance coverage for PPD screening. Although many pediatricians have integrated PPD screening into their practice, health plans in Massachusetts are not required to provide coverage for this clinically important service in pediatric settings, leading to costs being passed along to patients. The Medical Society sees this proposed coverage expansion as fundamental to advancing maternal and infant health in Massachusetts.

Throughout the remainder of the 2023–2024 state legislative session, the Medical Society will continue to advocate for the passage of these bills and continue to be a leading voice for improving access to equitable and much-needed mental health services during the perinatal period.

Share on Facebook
270005MS_CARE_RR_300x250_0623_FINAL2 (1)
Facebook logoLinkedInYouTube logoInstagram

Copyright © 2024. Massachusetts Medical Society, 860 Winter Street, Waltham Woods Corporate Center, Waltham, MA 02451-1411

(781) 893-4610 | General Support: (617) 841-2925 or