Our midwifery-led postpartum program was the successful recipient of a $40,000 grant earlier this year from Eastern York Region North Durham Ontario Health Team.

This grant will fund a research project that will examine the experiences and barriers of accessing mental health and addiction services for the perinatal population.

“We want to be able to share key information to service providers so they can identify strategies to increase access to mental health services and improve the patient experience,” says Abigail Corbin, patient care manager in our Alongside Midwifery Unit (AMU) at Markham Stouffville Hospital.

Canadian research has found that requests for visits for mental health conditions amongst postpartum people increased during COVID-19. Improving health equity for this population requires engagement with patients and primary care providers to identify key areas for improvement and patient-informed solutions.

“By conducting grassroots engagement with patients and primary care providers, we can identify key areas for improvement,” says Abigail. “By asking what services they feel they need, patients and families are engaged right from the beginning in shaping their care.”

Already vulnerable to mental health difficulties, COVID-19 has left families struggling. In Ontario, 38 per cent of parents report moderate to severe anxiety and 69 per cent report having depressive symptoms.

The midwifery-led postpartum program’s research project will be conducted in partnership with McMaster Midwifery Research Centre, who has provided invaluable research for the AMU in the past, and plans to share results after the project ends on March 31, 2024.