Reducing Maternal Perinatal Mental Health Problems in Times of Service Shortage: A web and telephone-based Intervention
Women of child bearing age have had the largest increase in anxiety and depressive disorders of all age groups since the onset of the pandemic (Lancet, 10/21). As documented in over 300 studies and 15 meta-analyses, maternal mental health issues exert a toll on mother, family, and newborn. In Canada, pregnant women have reported levels of depression 2-3 times higher than pre-pandemic levels. In Quebec, >19 000 persons are on the government waiting list for receiving mental health services. Offering effective population-based prevention programs to deal with mental health problems -a wider impact of COVID‑19 pandemic- is thus more important than ever in a context where curative/therapeutic services are lacking. To advance mental healthcare among a high-risk population, we will test the efficacy of a virtual care intervention (telephone-based) initiated early in pregnancy to prevent postpartum depression at 2 and 6 months after childbirth (points of peak prevalence). The Parents & Babies intervention comprises 8 online modules and 10 telephone sessions by a trained coach. Participants’ partners are encouraged to take part in the intervention. This randomized controlled trial will enroll 510 Quebec women with mild to moderate depression from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. The project will maximize health benefits within a rapid response timeframe by 1) providing timely web-based and telephone support; 2) potentially prevent maternal depression, anxiety and child development issues associated with maternal mental health problems; 3) identify a potentially effective and cost-effective model of preventive care to ameliorate the wider negative impacts of COVID-19; 4) by comparing RCT data to our 3 ongoing perinatal mental health observational studies, generate new knowledge on the indirect and wider consequences of COVID‑19 on maternal and child health.