These are indeed unprecedented times.
The past year has added an extraordinary amount of traumatic stress to new parents. Parenthood, in and of itself, is a challenging highly stressful time. However, the additional stressors imposed by government mandates in response to the global pandemic are contributing to a rise in a collective mental health crisis.
New parents are extra vulnerable. Isolation has always been a contributing factor in postpartum mood struggles. Many new parents no longer have access to the main support systems they would have drawn upon prior to March 2020. These new and sudden changes within the childbirth continuum have indeed resulted in a rise in postpartum mood struggles. The birthing woman or person is faced with all kinds of new protocols such as: wearing masks during this extraneous event; not having their loved ones or support people in attendance; having to choose only one support person to be present during the birth; experiencing extra fear about the risk of contagion; extra protocols being implemented in the immediate postpartum; and financial vulnerabilities, to name a few.
In response to this emerging perinatal mental health concern, that has far-reaching implications, we are raising funds to (a) Conduct a listening campaign and, (b) Provide bursary for counselling services to those who are financially vulnerable.
What is a listening campaign?
A listening campaign is a focused effort to build community and identify concerns and priorities within a specific sector of the population.
In this regard, the campaign is being used to provide a safe outlet for mothers and parents to share their stories of birth and postpartum during the pandemic; to identity needs or lack thereof; and to highlight concerns they would like brought to public officials.
Due to current mandates, ‘listening’ will be accomplished through one-on-one recorded phone conversations aimed at encouraging mothers and parents to:
· Talk about how they experience life as a new parent under current regulations and mandates
· Identify the issues that they care about and want the public to hear
· Suggest or speak to concerns that they would like the government to address, either internally or as part of its public agenda
The Overarching Purpose:
· To connect stories
· To build relationships and reduce isolation
· To lessen the stigma still associated with mental health
· To identify leaders in the community and connects them
· To raises awareness about how deeply or broadly people are affected by these specific issues
· To identify issues parents are concerned about and willing to work on
How will this be conducted?
· A social media campaign to raise awareness about the listening campaign
· An email campaign to inform perinatal professionals about the listening campaign
· A link on the website and throughout social media that allows parents to sign up for the campaign
· The ‘listening campaign’ will be conducted via phone or zoom and will be recorded for research purposes
· There will be a series of 10 questions that will be used throughout the campaign
· Each participant will be given an informed consent form to complete prior to the call
· Participants will be offered an opportunity to connect with one of our therapists after the call
· For those who are financially vulnerable will be offered a bursary for counselling
What will be done with the data collected?
Once the campaign has reached a minimum of 100 participants to a maximum of 1000 participants, the data will be reviewed, and important talking points will be highlighted and organized qualitatively by themes.
At which point, the data collected can be used to inform the public and government officials on the impacts that the pandemic is having on the mental health of new mothers and parents. After which, the report will outline suggestions to address these concerns.
How will the money be distributed?
For every $200 raised one parent will have access to counselling and $50 will go towards the listening campaign to conduct the 1-1 conversation and write the final report.
As an example:
A new mom or parent reaches out for therapeutic support and is in need of financial assistance. In most social services programs, a minimum of 6 to 12 sessions is often recommended to provide adequate therapeutic support. Therefore, for every $2000 raised, one new parent who is financially vulnerable will have access to a minimum of 10 sessions.
Who are the new moms in need and how will we reach them?
Studies tell us that the more vulnerable populations of people - our Indigenous parents, newcomers, black mothers, teen parents, single mothers/parents - are at greater risk of developing a postpartum mood disorder and suffering from birth trauma. We understand that reaching marginalized population is often a challenge. ASK Therapy has been reaching out to organizations and birthing professionals across Canada to build relationships. We will continue to engage in conversations with perinatal professionals who have direct access to our more vulnerable populations.
The listening campaign is an excellent avenue to engage thoughtful conversations with all populations of birthing parents. There is no financial risk on their part to engage in the conversation, they can remain anonymous if they so choose, and they will be given the opportunity to learn more about the value of therapy. Often the greatest barrier is reaching out for help and accessing funding to do so. We hope to close the gap on these two barriers.
Do you know anyone who has given birth during the pandemic?
If yes, please direct them to this link > Listening Campaign Sign Up
The parent or mother can decide if they want to participate in the listening campaign.
Who will be conducting the campaign?
Jennifer Summerfeldt , CEO (Chief Empathy Officer) of ASK Therapy ( www.therapyformoms.ca ) and JS Coaching Group Inc. will be conducting the one-on-one conversations. Jennifer holds a MA in Counselling Psychology, is a Certified Canadian Counsellor, an educator and an author. All conversations will follow the CCPA counselling ethical guidelines.
ASK Therapy offers online therapy to moms and parents throughout Canada (Ontario west). We are a social enterprise that is passionate about trauma-informed perinatal mental health.