The federal government should increase funding for a maternal mental health hotline that is meant to address postpartum depression in new mothers, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday. 

Gillibrand is seeking a $2 million increase in funding for the program, part of the Health Resrouces and Service Administration. The hotline was first put in place earlier this yar to provide 24-hour emergency contact for mothers and families who are struggling. 

At the same time, Gillibrand called for a $5 million boost in aid for the program meant to screen for and treat maternal depression. The efforts combined are meant to prevent deaths among mothers and end inequities in mental health outcomes for Americans. 

A Siena College poll released this week found mental health remains a struggle in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The poll found 51% of New Yorkers surveyed struggled with depression in the last year.

“Maternal mortality in our country is an epidemic that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic," Gillibrand said. "Stress, isolation, inadequate access to health care and socioeconomic inequities have negatively impacted maternal health this past year, and we must do everything in our power to support women throughout pregnancy and before, during and after childbirth.”