Reproductive Mental Health – BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services

The BC Mental Health Reproductive Mental Healthresource page offers an extensive range of resources for individuals and professionals. Self-care guides include topics such as Celebrating the Circle of Life: coming back to Balance and Harmony; Coping with Anxiety during Pregnancy and following the Birth; and Coping with Depression During Pregnancy and Following the Birth.

Factsheets are available on topics such as Perinatal Depression Treatment Options Factsheet; Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression Factsheet; and Depression During Pregnancy Factsheet.

Practice guidelines include Best Practice Guidelines for Mental Health in the Perinatal Period, a manual for healthcare clinicians who care for women during their reproductive years describing “best practices for the care of women with depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder and psychotic disorders, including postpartum psychosis during pregnancy or postpartum (up to one year) period.”

Resources for professionals including the downloadable Referral Form: BC Reproductive Mental Health Program and professional support materials for the Coping with Anxiety and Coping with Depression series.

Other resources available include a link to the BC Women’s Hospital website giving further information about pregnancy loss.

Celebrating the Circle of Life: coming back to Balance and Harmony has been produced as a guide to emotional health in pregnancy and early motherhood for Aboriginal women and their families.

The guide notes, “Supportive environments and relationships are especially important for Aboriginal women who are journeying through pregnancy, childbirth and parenting today. They may have few role models who can support them and pass on important traditional practices. There may be a loss of intergenerational community resources or events that help integrate past and current values and stories. Today, Aboriginal people, women especially, face some unique challenges in having healthy pregnancy, childbirth and parenting experiences. Many are very aware of and recognize these challenges, are eager to seek ways of meeting them, and respond in healthy ways to difficult emotions that may come with pregnancy. “ The guide is designed to be used individually by mothers, but also in conjunction with partners, families and friends, as well us with the support of professional health care providers. The six-part guide can be taken in any order, and can be worked on a few pages at a time. It is suggested that it can even be discussed “in places where people gather and talk: sewing circles, talking circles, prenatal classes, etc.”

The guide starts from prayer and incorporates basic Aboriginal teachings such as the Medicine Wheel and the Wheel of Life, and other holistic approaches such as the Life Braid Theory: mind, spirit and body woven together for balance. The guide also emphasizes the valuable role of Elders in supporting family and community life. It looks at the key qualities of good emotional health: the ability to enjoy life, foresight, resilience, balance in life, flexibility, comfort expressing emotions, and healthy, satisfying relationships. It goes through the stages of pregnancy and the postpartum period, and addresses potential issues of anxiety, depression and postpartum depression, incorporating cultural material. The guide ends with a section for family and friends, to enable stronger community support for women during pregnancy and the postpartum period.