Oct. 1, 2018
Increasing the less than four per cent of women who currently receive any kind of pre-natal mental health care
From her years as a neonatal nurse, Dawn Kingston knows stress, depression and anxiety in pregnancy could have an effect on the baby as well as the mum. So, beginning in October, several sites across Alberta will partner in the HOPE Digital Mental Health Platform, a weblink that pregnant women and new mothers can access to support their emotional health.
“Studies show that less than 10 per cent of women prefer face-to-face mental health screening,” says Kingston, the Lois Hole Hospital for Women Cross-Provincial Chair in Perinatal Mental Health. “With our e-platform package, it becomes very individualized and women are more likely to take advantage of e-screening and e-therapy.”
Kingston has been studying the mental health of women considering pregnancy and those who are pregnant, discovering a “cycle of nondisclosure and under-treatment. “Patients don’t always feel comfortable asking for help and healthcare providers often don’t have the time or the experience to ask,” she explains. “But with one in four women struggling with anxiety or depression, the need is there.”
And so, now, is the help. Kingston and her team have have developed this comprehensive e-platform comprising e-screening, e-referral and e-therapy so that women can get help whenever they need it, wherever they are.
“The majority of women want to self-manage; they prefer not to take medication or to leave home to see a counsellor. There is advice on the platform about ways to assess your mental health and to identify what is going on, but the platform is also paired with telephone coaches so that is an option.” Kingston is confident that embedding this e-platform within the Alberta health-care system will help both patient and provider. “We are moving prenatal mental health out of the shadows and building a culture of acceptance and support.”
What's next: With upcoming funding, we may be able to expand the platform to men and truly build a culture of emotional wellbeing.