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Reproductive and perinatal mental illness: An introduction for health care professionals

This comprehensive and accessible introductory training is designed for health care professionals from a variety of disciplines who wish to gain a key understanding of perinatal mental illness.

Postpartum women incur more hospitalizations than any other phase in the female life cycle and suicide is one of the leading causes of maternal deaths in Canada and the United States. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) are the most underdiagnosed, underreported and untreated complications of childbirth; and yet are highly responsive to treatment and proper care, particularly with early identification. The background of women’s reproductive mental health as well as race and ethnicity are especially important factors to learn about relative to the socio-cultural impact of outcomes for women suffering from perinatal mental illness.

This training provides a foundational understanding of evidence-informed and widely accepted practices in working with this population. An overview of screening tools for assessing PMADs will be provided, along with addressing the impact of COVID-19 on maternal mental health. In addition, the increasing rate of paternal mental illness will be contextualized.

Learning objectives:

  • Discuss basic terminology used in the field of perinatal mental health 
  • List the range of diagnoses that occur during the childbearing years; and their clinical presentation relative to reproductive mental health 
  • Review basic screening tools used to assess PMADs 
  • Describe factors that elevate risk 
  • Identify signs of heightened perinatal suicidality 
  • Elucidate the role of race in outcomes for perinatal women of colour