Assemblyman Brian Maienschein / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Sacramento mom Jessica Porten went to a women’s clinic earlier this year to talk about what she thought might be symptoms of postpartum depression, but instead of getting help she got another injection of anxiety.

A nurse, worried Porten might harm her baby, called police.

Porten and plenty of others think that reaction was less than ideal. Women’s health groups rallied in Sacramento in response – and they came with a list of policies that might help women like Porten get better care.

San Diego Assemblyman Brian Maienschein signed on to carry two of those policies as bills this session.

One, which passed the state Assembly in April, would require the state Health Department to apply for federal funding created during the Obama administration specifically to support maternal mental health.

Kelly Kay, interim executive director of Maternal Mental Health NOW, an L.A.-based group that’s one of the bill’s cosponsors, said if the bill passes and California secures funding, she’d like to see a large-scale public awareness campaign encouraging mothers to “speak up when you’re down.”

“Women who are low-income, women of color, women who are undocumented or victims of domestic violence, gay and lesbian women are at higher risk … and prevalence rates are much higher because of the added stressors they have on their lives,” said Kay.

So far, the bill has no opponents.

“Many states, including California, do not have the appropriate tools and resources in place to screen or treat women for [maternal mental health] disorders, and public education about maternal mental health is severely lacking. Through AB 1893, we can begin to improve public education campaigns, increase screenings, provide telehealth support for patients, as well as identify and close gaps in treatment in order to help these mothers and their babies,” Maienschein said in a statement.

Another bill would require OBGYNs to screen mothers for maternal mental health conditions like postpartum depression. It would also help facilitate some telehealth options between mothers and doctors.

Right now, doctors are advised but not required to do those screenings.

“Just because it’s recommended doesn’t mean it’s happening, and we know that it’s not happening on a regular and consistent basis,” said Kay. “We also know from other states that just mandating screening doesn’t actually result in providers screening on a regular basis. One of the barriers is that providers don’t know what to do when someone screens positive.”

That’s why the bill also includes a component to create a treatment plan – including utilizing a case manager – if a mother screens positive.

Another San Diego-area legislator, Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, has written a resolution that would recognize May as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month.

Getting Schooled on Cross-Border Students

More than 50,000 students born in California are attending schools in Baja California. Twenty-one percent of San Diego ninth and 10th grade students have experienced living and studying in Mexico. Only 6 percent of immigrant English-learners here in California are able to pass state math tests. Less than 15 percent of Latinos in California have completed a college degree. Educators report that 80 percent of their immigrant students – even the high-achieving ones – are experiencing emotional and academic problems since the surge in immigration enforcement under the Trump administration.

These are some of the stunning statistics presented at a Senate Select Committee on California-Mexico Cooperation hearing Tuesday.

The hearing was divided in two parts – the first, longer portion looked at California students being educated in Mexico, and the second examined cross-border collaboration in higher education.

“The idea of California students going over to Mexico and coming back and forth is nothing new in our state’s history,” said Thomas Adams, deputy superintendent of the Teaching and Learning Support Branch of the California Department of Education. “What is new is the number of students that are residing in Mexico.”

One of the big takeaways was that cross-border students have valuable binational and bicultural knowledge and are bilingual, but aren’t necessarily getting what they need from public institutions.

“The cross-border fluency of these young people make them a tremendous asset to the region in terms of human capital, but when our education systems are not prepared to support them as they move from one country to another, it’s easy for them to slip through the cracks and many of them are,” said Melissa Floca, an associate director of UC San Diego’s Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies.

Higher education representatives at the panel discussed how they are trying to increase interactions between institutions in both regions and binational opportunities for students.

Cindy Giorgio, director of the University of California-Mexico Initiative, said that since 2013, they’ve made better connections, including traditional study abroad programs, UC faculty-led research opportunities in Mexico, a binational internship program, programs like ENLACE, which pairs students on both sides of the border for STEM research and more.

Giorgio also noted the creation of a bilateral higher education task force to look at allowing undocumented students to finish their degrees in Mexico, if they return to the country – either voluntary or involuntarily – before finishing school.

“It’s interesting,” said San Diego Sen. Ben Hueso, who chairs the committee, at the end of the hearing. “We have really pressing issues along our border and our president has not visited California to meet with elected leaders here in his year and a half in office, and that is unprecedented in the history of our state, no matter who’s been in office. … But we’re plugging away. We are our own state, our own country. … We’re moving forward with or without Washington.”

Maya Srikrishnan

Thanks, John Cox. Now We’re All Talking About Filner Again

Donna Frye. Irene McCormack. Cory Briggs. Marco Gonzalez. Jan Goldsmith. Gloria Allred. Laura Fink. The list of names of those responsible for ousting former Mayor Bob Filner could go on and on (and on and on and on) before the name “John Cox” made an appearance.

Cox, a Republican who is running for governor, claimed in a debate this week that he was responsible for getting rid of Filner. Our friend Liam Dillon, who covered Filner closely for us during the scandal, pointed out that despite Cox’s donation to the recall effort, he was not the reason Filner left office. The recall, remember, never happened.

Golden State News

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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