For the very first time, the Florida Legislature was tasked with addressing perinatal mental health of women, men and babies in Florida during the 2018 Regular Session that began in January and concluded in March.
Senator Lauren Book championed the cause by filing the "Florida Families First Act" originally filed as 2018 Senate Bill 138. You can find the original bill and the bill history HERE.
Legislative committees heard from numerous supporters of the bill as well as personal testimony from family members and survivors.
On January 29, 2018, advocates, medical professionals, families and survivors convened on capitol hill in Tallahassee for Maternal Mental Health Advocacy Day. Senator Lauren Book and House Representative Loranne Ausley spoke about personal experience and support for this bill. Additionally, Florida Maternal Mental Health Collaborative Co-founders, Dr. Heather Flynn and Lauren DePaola were joined by other professionals and survivors who shared personal testimony and information on the importance of educating legislators about perinatal mental health.
While not all the initiatives in the original bill were passed, this is a very big step in the right direction for Florida in caring for the foundation of health for parents and children. You can find the final legislative language and appropriations of the bill here for the House version Bill #937 that was passed and signed into law.
In summary, the version of the bill that was passed:
-Requires the Florida Department of Health (DOH) to provide information on perinatal mental health resources through the existing Family Health Line
-Revises requirements for birth centers to include mental health screening and information on resources given to postpartum women at discharge.
The requirements of the bill go into effect January 1, 2019.
THANK YOU to all who attended Maternal Mental Health Advocacy Day 2018 and to those who shared their testimony with legislators during this journey.
If you would like to learn more about perinatal mental health or how you can be involved with the Collaborative, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org