Patricia Tomasi is a mom, maternal mental health advocate, journalist, and speaker. She writes for the Huffington Post Canada and has herself suffered twice from prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety.
Since there were no support groups to be found in her community, Patricia started her own, peer-based, private Facebook support group for women worldwide which has grown to over 1700 members.
Patricia is a former broadcast journalist with CFRB radio, CBC radio, CTV News, and Global News in Toronto, Vancouver, Timmins, and Thunder Bay. She also worked as a communications and media relations officer for the Ontario government.
Canada Needs A Maternal Mental Health Strategy
One in five Canadians will be affected by a mental illness this year, and that includes pregnant and postpartum women who may develop a range of maternal mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and psychosis.
According to new guidelines released by the Government of Canada, depression affects about 10 per cent of women during pregnancy, and 20 to 40 per cent of women with a history of depression will suffer a relapse postpartum. Despite this, Canada does not recommend perinatal depression screening, while Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States all do.
Advocates are calling for:
- A national maternal mental health strategy;
- Universal screening for all women for maternal mental health disorders from preconception to one year postpartum and beyond. We need to talk about the symptoms not often spoken about including intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, heart palpitations, muscle tightness, brain fog, derealization, depersonalization and in some cases, delusional thinking, hallucinations, and psychosis;
- More training for health care providers from nurses to obstetricians, to family doctors, to midwives; and
- More resources in every community in Canada to help women with a perinatal mood disorder such as therapy, support groups, home care, and a dedicated maternal mental health units with beds for mothers and their babies.