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New mental health tool launched for post-partum depression


A tool to support new parents when they encounter emotional challenges during and after pregnancy was launched Monday morning.

Quebec Minister responsible for Social Services Lionel Carmant made the announcement at the Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal.

According to the Observatory for Children's Education and Health, problems of sadness, anxiety or depressive symptoms during pregnancy are among the most frequent complications for future parents.

It is estimated that between 10 and 25 per cent of parents are affected, and this rate has risen to 37 per cent since the start of the pandemic.

"The arrival of a child brings great happiness, but it's also the source of major changes and upheavals in our lives. And like any big change, it means that each person can react differently," said Carmant at a news conference.

He pointed out that very few women who suffer from post-partum depression seek help.

"It's really a problem that we don't talk about enough, but these challenges come with becoming a parent," he said.

Carmant said that "we're in a key period" where it's easier to screen for these parenting issues, and the tool being launched on Monday is also intended to support health professionals to better spot mental health issues in parents.

Carmant praised the fact that parents will be able to access this resource from home and said he wanted professionals to recommend it to their patients.

The new free, online tool, called "Toi, Moi, Bébé", offers strategies, video vignettes and comic strips for parents to take care of themselves in order to "care better for their baby."

It specifically targets the period from pregnancy to the child's first birthday. It was developed by researchers and health and social services professionals.

A news release from Carmant's office states that the tool can "serve as a clinical complement to other services offered for the treatment of post-partum depression and the management of stress associated with parenthood."

It is estimated that between 9,000 and 13,000 Quebec women were affected by post-partum depression in 2023. Among those diagnosed with postnatal depression, 30 to 60 per cent present symptoms in the prenatal period.

Dr. Martin St-André, Medical Chief of the Perinatal and Early Childhood Psychiatry Clinic at Sainte-Justine Hospital, helped develop the project.

He explained that it contains concrete strategies and "strategies of radical acceptance of reality."

"The tool developed helps the parent to know how to deal with a variety of manifestations, such as intrusive thoughts, nervousness, fatigue and communication problems within the couple," said St-André.

Ste. Justine Hospital in Montreal. (Laurence Brisson Dubreuil, CTV News)

He also provided tips on how to live with these realities.

"It's not a disease to get rid of when you become a parent; there are growing pains. So we have to be careful not to put diagnoses everywhere. And 'Toi, Moi, Bébé' allows us to get to the heart of these grey areas that arise in the context of parenthood," says St-André.

'Toi, Moi, Bébé' is a project stemming from the Interministerial mental health action plan 2022-2026, one of whose aims is to integrate digital interventions into mental health services. It is also part of the Perinatal and Early Childhood Action Plan 2023-2028.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 17, 2024.

The Canadian Press health content receives funding through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices. Top Stories

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