The 2014-2015 CalSPAC CoChair Virginia Chambers said, “We are deeply honored that Junior Leagues of California State Public Affairs Committee received the Association of Junior League's inaugural Public Policy and Advocacy Award for Maternal Health. California’s mothers and families are better off because of the work of so many fearless leaders over the past six years.”
In 2009, CalSPAC learned about maternal mental health disorders through its “There Ought to Be a Law” contest. Junior League of Los Angeles (JLLA) Provisional Britt Bowe, submitted the winning idea to CalSPAC’s contest after reading an article in Self Magazine about an Olympic athlete whose twin sister tragically lost her life due to an untreated maternal mental health disorder . The winning submission sought to provide information to mothers/families about perinatal depression at the hospital at time of discharge.
CalSPAC initially used legislative advocacy to influence the practices of health agencies, to change the stigma around this issue and to encourage the Legislature to recognize the severity of maternal mental health issues. Over three years, CalSPAC introduced one bill and two resolutions, resulting in ACR 105 (Nava)(Chaptered 2010) – declaring every May Perinatal Depression Awareness month in California; ACR 53 (Hernandez)(Chaptered 2011) - urges health care stakeholders to invest resources to educate women about perinatal depression risk factors and triggers.
The leaders of CalSPAC at the time, focused on capacity building to create sustainable change and in 2011, the California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative was created and is now a separate nonprofit. CalSPAC supported the Collaborative’s sponsored ACR 148(Lowenthal)(Chaptered 2014), creating the State Commission on the Status of Maternal Mental Health Care which will kick off this June, according to Joy Burkhard, the Executive Director of the Collaborative and the sponsor of the Commission.
CalSPAC utilized community advocacy to influence public opinion and create a grassroots public education campaign. In 2010, CalSPAC worked with members from JLLA to develop awareness materials and a social media campaign for CalSPAC to utilize in May. JLSF expanded upon the JLLA developed “Speak Up When You’re Down” campaign by holding community panels and distributing materials to community partners, baby and maternity stores and partnering with the City and County of San Francisco, UCSF, and CPMC. JLSF’s Advocacy Committee continues to engage members and the community, hosting a kick off for Maternal Health Awareness Month called “What I’d Wished I Knew About Motherhood”.
The Award is shared by many fearless Junior League leaders. Past CalSPAC Co-Chair Julie Elginer spearheaded ACR 105 and the experience proved pivotal in her doctoral dissertation and continues as faculty in her UCLA reproductive health advocacy course. Past CalSPAC Co-Chair Joy Burkhard drafted ACR 53 and ACR 148, founded the California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative, hosts a national coalition and is starting a state-wide commission. JLLA members September Hill and Tasha Koumaris, helped create the “Speak Up When You’re Down” awareness campaign. JLSF Advocacy member Audrey Symes was instrumental in the development of a national social media campaign. 2014-2015 CalSPAC Co-Chair Caroline Bruister was Nava’s staffer, then decided to join JLSB/JLSF due to her experience with CalSPAC’s work. Past CalSPAC CoChair September Hill was inspired by CalSPAC’s work as an assistant and has since held every leadership placement within Public Policy Council, including Director and CalSPAC Co-Chair.
“The Junior League and CalSPAC provide members the training they need to conduct advocacy with skill on behalf of our community partners, our focus issues and our mission. The passion for building better communities is what has kept me active in the League the past seven years and excited about the difference a small group of committed citizens can do through collective advocacy efforts,” said September Hill.
Several past CalSPAC delegates continue to advocate on this issue through participation on the statewide or local taskforces including Andrea Medina (Bakersfield), Kristyn Byrne (Napa-Sonoma), Mia Fletcher (Fresno) and more. As Dr. Elginer shared, “The Junior League has a 114 year history of tackling some of society’s most vexing problems. This is an example of the power of strategic advocacy to achieve monumental, issue based community impact. Transformational change is possible.”
About the Junior Leagues of California State Public Affairs Committee:
CalSPAC is the statewide advocacy arm of 17 CalSPAC member leagues representing 10,000 women who volunteer over 110,000 hours and donate over $1.1 million dollars annually to their communities.
Learn more at www.californiaspac.com
About the California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative & 2020 Mom Project:
The CMMHC is a separate 501c3 non-profit organization that was formed as a result of the bill SPAC sponsored in 2009, Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 105. The organization has recently changed it’s name to 2020 Mom, to reflect it’s work nationaling and it’s core project, the 2020 Mom Project, which The CMMHCsets forth a pathway for change. hosts the National Coalition for Maternal Mental Health and is the organization who is sponsoring the work of the new California Commission on the Status of Maternal Mental Health Care.
Learn more at http://www.camaternalmentalhealth.org