(la version française suit après) Help us convince the federal government that we need a perinatal mental health strategy – NOW.

We launched our #SURVEY4CHANGE for family doctors, OBs, midwives, doulas, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and any health care practitioner that sees and cares for pregnant and postpartum parents.

Our deadline was December 15th, 2020. Results are being analyzed currently.

We are hoping to learn about different screening and treatment practices across Canada so we can identify the gaps as well as what’s working in different jurisdictions.

Notre « Sondage pour un changement *** https://bit.ly/perinatalhcp*** pour médecin de famille, obstétricienne-gynécologue, sage-femme, accompagnante à la naissance, travailleuse sociale, psychiatre, psychologue, et infirmière. Tout professionnel de la santé qui traite directement des populations en santé mentale périnatale pouvait remplir ce questionnaire.

L’étude vise à cerner les lacunes dans le dépistage et le traitement offerts en santé mentale périnatale aux femmes enceintes et à leurs partenaires. Les observations issues de cette recherche nous permettront d’avoir une meilleure idée des services disponibles en ce moment et de mettre en évidence les endroits où il faudrait en ajouter d’autres.

Cette étude a été approuvée par le comité d’éthique en recherche des facultés conjointes de l’Université de Calgary (REB20-0700)


In April 2020, the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative (CPMHC) launched a month-long public awareness campaign in the midst of COVID-19, leading up to World Maternal Mental Health Day which fell on May 6th, 2020. During the month of April and for the first week of May, the CPMHC put a call out to action to its followers and general members of the public, asking them to send in a video of themselves sharing why they felt perinatal mental health mattered #NowMoreThanEver. During the pandemic, pregnant and postpartum parents suddenly had to deal with social isolation, one of the major risk factors for postpartum depression, as governments announced orders for social distancing in order to flatten the curve. The CPMHC’s #NowMoreThanEver social media campaign reached millions and the CPMHC put together a video compilation of clips that included videos they received from concerned federal and provincial elected members, city and town mayors, celebrities, health care practitioners, and persons with lived experience.

The CPMHC is a national, grassroots, non-profit, advocacy organization calling on the federal government to enact a national perinatal mental health strategy. Since the CPMHC’s public launch in 2019, the organization has heard from thousands of persons with lived experience about how frustrating it is for them to navigate the health care system for help in treating Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs). On May 12th, 2020, the CPMHC’s E-petition for a national perinatal mental health strategy was presented to the House of Commons by Edmonton-Strathcona MP Heather McPherson.

In Canada and worldwide, 20% of women and 10% of men suffer from a perinatal mental illness. PMADs are the most common obstetrical complication making it a significant public health concern. Poor mental health affects the expectant and new mother’s overall emotional and physical well-being, but also impacts unborn, newborn and developing children, partners, family, friends and society as a whole.

Exposure to adverse childhood experiences, of which parental depression is one, results in high levels of toxic stress on a child’s developing brain that increases the likelihood of poor mental and physical health outcomes later in life. Suicide is a leading cause of maternal death, with one in nine women dying by suicide in the U.K. Despite limitations in Canadian data suicide is the fourth leading cause of death, with one in 19 maternal deaths in Ontario attributed to suicide.

Maternal depression and anxiety are stronger risk factors for child behaviour problems than smoking, binge drinking, and emotional or physical domestic abuse. More women suffer from perinatal mental illness than there are new cases of breast cancer and the combined new cases (all genders) of leukemia, tuberculosis, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Diseases, Lupus, and epilepsy annually.

Cost estimates for untreated mothers and children affected by perinatal mental illness is estimated at $150,000 per mother child dyad with 72% of costs allocated to the child, which can be reduced to $5,000 with screening and treatment – 85% of mothers are not properly treated with a resulting annual economic cost to Canada of approximately $11 billion dollars.

Stigma, lack of public and professional awareness, and leaving the onus on the mothers to reach out for help, results in only 15% of mothers who experience a perinatal mental illness receiving professional treatment. Some countries, such as the U.K. and Australia, have maternal mental health strategies and screening guidelines in place.

While they were disappointed with the response from the federal government to their call for a national strategy, the CPMHC continues to work diligently behind the scenes to understand the full picture including where the gaps lie in perinatal mental health care in Canada.

In collaboration with prominent Canadian researchers in the field of perinatal mental health that form the CPMHC’s National Committee, the CPMHC has launched this study and created a survey for Canadian health care practitioners to fill out from every province and territory.

The CPMHC wants to learn whether screening for PMADs (which can include preconception, prenatal and postpartum depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and psychosis) is taking place, what methods are being employed in different jurisdictions, and whether persons are receiving access to timely and appropriate treatment.

The CPMHC hopes the results of their survey will shed light on the state of perinatal mental health care in Canada and help guide the Government of Canada in creating a national perinatal mental health strategy.

The survey can be completed anonymously by any health care practitioner in Canada with perinatal clients/patients. Health care practitioners can include physicians/family doctors, obstetricians/gynaecologists, paediatricians, psychiatrists, nurses, midwives, naturopathic doctors, registered dieticians, psychotherapists, psychologists, social workers, chiropractors, physiotherapists, and any others not listed here that deal directly with clients in the preconception, pregnancy and/or postpartum time periods.