Pregnancy and childbirth is expected to be a joyful time for a family — but the reality is often very different: many women face mental health issues that can be debilitating.
There are vast opportunities to develop innovative supports for women experiencing these challenges — but funding and research is needed to make these a reality.
BC Women’s Health Foundation has launched the $4.5 million Reproductive Mental Health Campaign to fund innovative projects that can help improve the experiences of British Columbian women seeking support.
REPRODUCTIVE MENTAL HEALTH RESEARCH
Investment Needed: $3.1 million
The Reproductive Mental Health Program at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre is a centre of excellence and a national leader specializing in the assessment and treatment of women with psychiatric illnesses during the perinatal period.
This program is the provincial source for best practice guidelines and is committed to the education of healthcare providers across the province. However, this influential site lacks a research program that is integrated with clinical care.
This leaves many questions about how to best treat women with reproductive mental health issues unanswered – not just at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, but across the province.
Reproductive Mental Health Research will bridge this gap in knowledge.
Funding will provide clinician-researchers at the Reproductive Mental Health Program with the resources they need to develop innovative treatments and support for women. These experts see the challenges women face every day.
- Goal #1: Make virtual mindfulness-based interventions, such as guided meditation, accessible to women across the province — which have proven benefits for women and their partners.
- Goal #2: Develop digital decision-making tools to help women make educated choices about the use of antidepressants during pregnancy. Researchers will investigate decision-making options to better support women through the difficult process of balancing the risks of using antidepressants in pregnancy with the risks of untreated depression.
This research will allow these experts to develop digital resources to support best practices for care providers + best outcomes for women.
Investment Needed: $640,000
Dealing with a pregnancy loss can be a deeply painful experience with significant physical and emotional impacts. In Canada, 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime, and 1 in 4 women will experience an early pregnancy loss.
myPostCare is the first digital technology of its kind that will provide women with virtual support to safely navigate the initial period of abortion.
This project will expand the existing platform to also support women who have experienced early pregnancy loss. Additionally, it will make this tool truly accessible to diverse communities across Canada through culturally-informed research and design, including translation into multiple languages.
By investing in myPostCare, you will be helping women understand what to expect at each stage of their recovery.
From when and how to access mental health supports, to when to seek medical advice — this tool will overcome barriers of geography, stigma, and culture that can prevent women from getting the perinatal healthcare they need.
Investment needed: $100,000
Anxiety among women during and following pregnancy – the perinatal period – impacts 1 in 5 women, with numerous challenging outcomes for both mother and baby.
There is great promise for psychological approaches as an alternative to medicated treatments for perinatal anxiety disorders. Psychological approaches may provide a safe and effective alternative for pregnant and nursing women.
Dr. Nichole Fairbrother and her research team are poised to lead a broad program of research that will build knowledge in the area of perinatal anxiety disorder education, screening, assessment and treatment.
Your investment will improve the lives of pregnant and postpartum women and their children through research, and allow learnings to be shared broadly throughout BC and across the country.
FIR OUTDOOR HEALING SPACE
The Families in Recovery (FIR) Program at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre supports women and their newborns recovering from substance use.
In July 2019, FIR relocated to a brand new facility. But one key component is unfinished: The Outdoor Healing Space.
This special space, designed to connect with the natural world — featuring Indigenous traditional teachings, with direct access to sunlight, fresh air, and community — will provide important mental health support to women in their healing and wellness journey.
Research shows that therapeutic outdoor spaces have significant positive impacts on patients in a hospital environment. They can reduce stress and depression, and enhance rehabilitation and healing.
For women who may spend many months living in a hospital environment, this beautiful outdoor space will provide a powerful opportunity to recharge, connect with each other, and heal.
POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION ONLINE SUPPORT TOOL
During the critical period after birth, connection to others can mean a world of difference to a woman with postpartum depression.
Researchers from the Women’s Health Research Institute are creating an online tool called SUPPORT, to equip women with the knowledge and resources they need to determine their best path to wellness.
By working with mothers from different regions of the province and Indigenous communities, this evidence-based online tool will provide culturally-safe support tailored for the unique needs of each individual woman.
With SUPPORT, women will be able to access practical resources (like a mood tracker web app), information on local services, and evidence-based information about postpartum depression. This tool will also facilitate connection between women through chat forums. By investing in SUPPORT, you will help to provide women experiencing postpartum depression an immediate and accessible lifeline to resources that can make a real difference during their time of need.