We want first to acknowledge the inherent privilege built into Canada’s medical system and its administration by countless dedicated and knowledgeable healthcare workers and practitioners. It is not our intention to suggest maternal mental health isn’t a complex challenge, nor that its challenges are solvable through a single body of research. Canada is a country long focused on ensuring its citizens have access to the primary medical care we believe should be afforded to all. However, even within a beautiful system, there is room for improvement, innovation and growth. Rigorous introspection allows us to set a blueprint for continually striving to be better, more effective, and to have support and treatment pathways become accessible to more people. This act of introspection acted as the catalyst to commission this report.
To answer the question posed at the beginning of this journey, whether Canada as a country is doing enough for maternal mental health support, in short, the answer is no. First, our healthcare system resources are not equally accessible, distributed or even available. What is standard in one province may be entirely unavailable in the next; resources may be abundant in one municipality, while less is offered just a few kilometres away.
Based on the enclosed research, the sage advice, research and analysis of our partners and friends, and our experience as a peer support network, we believe a top-down, bottom-up strategic approach is necessary to improve maternal mental support across Canada. National attention and action, coupled with grassroots initiatives advanced by organizations, individuals, teams and groups, will mean a tangible progression in the right direction.
A myriad of possibilities exists for how such an approach may work, and indeed, collaboration will be the path to improvement. Once and for all, we believe there needs to be a Federal focus on creating a national perinatal mental health strategy to address gaps in the framework and execution of maternal mental health prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and support. Ideally, the Federal Government then equips provinces with the mandate and funding to design a universal perinatal support strategy in their region. This action would trickle down to referral pathways, to the regional and municipal bodies whose responsibility includes first-contact and day-to-day patient care.
Second, grassroots action fuels the bottom-up strategy. There are thousands of dedicated individuals, advocates, practitioners, organizations, hospitals and clinics, collaboratives, and coalitions whose sole reason is to support maternal mental health. By working in concert with those within and outside the province, we’ll increase our collective ability to close gaps in care and increase the number and access to referral pathways.
We hope this report acts as a catalyst for all of us to work together to improve maternal mental health support in Canada.
Download your copy of the report here Maternal Mental Health Support in Canada_ A Review.pdf