Welcome to the official site for the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative! We are Canada’s first and only perinatal mental health advocacy organization calling on the federal government to enact a national perinatal mental health strategy. Our National Committee is comprised of numerous heath care practitioners, researchers, and individuals with lived experience representing all provinces and territories. Through social media campaigns, petitions, and tremendous support from parents across the country, we are working towards a strategy that will leave no one behind. We want nothing less than universal screening and timely access to treatment for women and men during the pregnancy and the postpartum period.
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Our mission is to lobby the federal government to create a national perinatal mental health strategy that will provide direction, policy, and funding for improvements to perinatal mental health care including universal screening and timely access to treatment for women and men during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Perinatal mental illness includes prenatal and postpartum depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and psychosis.
In Canada and worldwide, 20% of women and 10% of men suffer from a perinatal mental illness. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders 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.