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BEAM: Building Emotional Awareness and Mental Health in Parenting. An appbased intervention to improve postpartum mental health and support children’s brain development

Chef d'équipe 
  • Catherine Lebel, University of Calgary
Membres de l'équipe :
  • Lianne Tomfohr-Madsen, University of Calgary
  • Gerald Giesbrecht, University of Calgary
  • Leslie Roos, University of Manitoba
  • Tim Oberlander, BC Children's Hospital and BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre
  • Lara Leijser, University of Calgary
  • Bell/Bell Let's Talk

Aperçu du projet

Postpartum mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, affect 15-20% of people and are a serious public health concern. Untreated postpartum mental health problems can be long-lasting, and lead to behaviour problems, brain changes, and risk for later mental illness in children. Rates of postpartum depression and anxiety are very high during the COVID-19 pandemic, raising serious concerns about long-term effects on parents and children. There are effective treatments for postpartum mental illness, but they can be difficult to access due to lack of childcare, lack of time, or cost. To improve accessibility, we developed an app-based treatment for postpartum mental illness: BEAM: Building Emotional Awareness and Mental Health in Parenting. BEAM is a 10-week program with videos, exercises, and zoom check-ins. The program is supported by peers (parents who experienced their own mental health problems) and coached by clinically-trained staff. Importantly, the program includes a forum where parents connect with each other to receive and provide social support. Our proposed study will test the BEAM app to see how well it improves parent mental health, parenting stress, child behaviour, and child brain structure and function. We will recruit 300 individuals with high postpartum depression and/or anxiety symptoms. Half will undergo the BEAM intervention and half will form a control group. We will assess parent mental health and parenting stress before and after the intervention, and again 12 months later. We will measure child behaviour at 2 and 3 years, as well as child brain structure and function at 2-3 years.

BEAM is easy to access, treats common mental health problems, and can quickly be delivered more broadly if it is effective. This project has high potential to improve parent mental health and child brain development and behaviour, thus improving the lives of many parents, children, and families.