Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) introduced legislation to intensify the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) focus on helping women cope with the loss of a child during pregnancy. The Pregnancy Loss Mental Health Research Act directs the NIH to prioritize resources and research into clinical mental health complications following a pregnancy loss, including miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion.
“The loss of a child takes a terrible toll on the mental and emotional well-being of the mother. For those who experience a miscarriage, stillbirth, or an abortion, the pain and grief can be unimaginable. Of all the federal resources directed to the NIH each year for medical research, little is allocated to understand and identify treatment for mental health conditions following a pregnancy loss,” said Emmer.
“As thousands of women confront these tragic situations each year, it is important that we continue to better our understanding of the mental health complications and improve the delivery of treatment and care for those who are suffering,” Emmer concluded.
Pregnancy loss can have severe and long-term effects on the mental and emotional well-being of a woman. What little study done at the federal level shows that symptoms of mental and emotional distress after a pregnancy loss can include depression, intense grief, substance abuse, sleep disturbances, and difficulty with relationships. As with any clinical health issue, additional research can unlock new ways to help individuals struggling to cope with the mental health challenges following the loss of a child.
The Pregnancy Loss Mental Health Research Act requires the National Institutes of Health to coordinate with other national research institutes to determine what care is needed for individuals who have experienced pregnancy loss. This includes:
- Developing improved screening and diagnostic techniques for women who may be more likely to experience severe mental health challenges following the loss of a child,
- Developing information and education programs for health care professionals and the public, and
- Directing clinical research for the development and evaluation of new treatments.
You can read the text of the Pregnancy Loss Mental Health Research Act here.
Multiple stakeholder groups have expressed support for the Pregnancy Loss Mental Health Research Act, including the Family Research Council.
“The loss of an unborn child—regardless of the circumstances surrounding the unborn child’s death—is always something to mourn. For too long, mothers and fathers of babies who have never taken a breath outside the womb have suffered in silence carrying a pain that is often brushed off by those who have not experienced it. Studying the mental health effects of the death of an unborn child is a step towards recognizing the humanity of the child and impact the child had on the world. Doing so will help parents cope with the suffering that accompanies the death of an unborn child.” Mary Szoch, Director of the Center for Human Dignity, Family Research Council
The Pregnancy Loss Mental Health Research Act is a continuation of Congressman Emmer’s efforts to direct mental health resources and assistance to areas of greatest need. In 2017, Congressman Emmer introduced the STRESS Act to improve the availability of mental health resources for Americans living in rural communities. He has also introduced the Expanding Access to Inpatient Mental Health Act to eliminate an arbitrary cap on mental health services, and the Behavioral Health Coordination and Communication Act to streamline the delivery of mental health services in the federal government.
You can read more about Congressman Emmer’s work on mental health, here.