Petition for a National Strategy for Perinatal Mental Health in Canada

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The Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative is a group of advocates working to get a national strategy for perinatal mental health care in Canada so that women and men in every province and territory can have access to screening and timely treatment for perinatal mental illnesses.

Our first national campaign is to get #ONTHEAGENDA for the provincial/territorial health ministers’ meeting in spring 2019.

We are asking for the ministers of health across Canada to work with us to develop a perinatal mental health strategy to include public and professional awareness, mandatory universal screening, and increased access to treatment options such as support groups, medication, counselling, or hospitalization to all pregnant and postpartum women and their families experiencing a perinatal mental illness.

Please sign this petition and join our effort by signing up at


Our mission is to demonstrate support and need for government legislation and funding for a perinatal mental health national strategy containing, among other improvements to perinatal mental health care, universal screening and timely access to treatment for women and men during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

The collaborative plans to demonstrate support for a national strategy via national campaigns led by the coalition comprised of mothers and fathers with lived experience, advocates, health care practitioners, researchers, and perinatal mental health organizations across Canada.


In Canada and worldwide, 20% of women and 10% of men suffer from a perinatal mental illness. Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) are the most common obstetrical complication making it a significant public health concern

Poor mental health affects the expectant and new mother’s overall emotional and physical well-being, but also impacts unborn, newborn and developing children, partners, family, friends and society as a whole

Exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences, of which parental depression is one, results in high levels of toxic stress on a child’s developing brain that increases the likelihood of poor mental and physical health outcomes later in life

Suicide is a leading cause of maternal death, with one in 9 women dying by suicide in the UK. Despite limitations in Canadian data suicide is the fourth leading cause of death, with one in 19 maternal deaths in Ontario attributed to suicide

Maternal depression and anxiety are stronger risk factors for child behaviour problems than smoking, binge drinking, and emotional or physical domestic abuse

More women suffer from PMADs than there are new cases of breast cancer and the combined new cases (all genders) of leukemia, tuberculosis, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Diseases, Lupus, and epilepsy annually

Cost estimates for untreated mothers and children affected by perinatal mental illness is estimated at $150,000 per mother child dyad with 72% of costs allocated to the child, which can be reduced to $5,000 with screening and treatment; 85% of mothers are not properly treated with a resulting annual economic cost to Canada of approximately $11 billion dollars.

Stigma, lack of public and professional awareness, and leaving the onus on the mothers to reach out for help, results in only 15% of mothers who experience a PMAD receiving professional treatment. Some countries, such as the UK and Australia, have maternal mental health strategies and screening guidelines in place.