In this film, you will see and hear women talking about their experiences of mental health problems during and after pregnancy. Researchers from the Canadian Health Experiences Research Group, at St. Mary’s Research Centre and McGill University, interviewed 21 women in Quebec and Ontario. We asked them about, for example, the challenges they encountered, what sorts of supports were helpful, as well as about what could be improved. This film presents key themes that were important to these women with examples from their stories. We hope that by listening to these women, people might reflect on their own experiences as a patient or someone who cares for someone with these problems, including friends, family and healthcare professionals, and help ‘trigger’ ideas about what could be done differently to improve the lived experiences of those with perinatal mental health problems.
Our sincere thanks to all the women who participated in this study.
We welcome feedback from anyone using this film, to know how and where it was viewed, and if it was helpful in some way.
We are grateful to the Royal Bank of Canada Foundation for providing financial support for this study.
From “quarantinis” to zoom cocktails, the pandemic certainly hasn’t been a dry one.
With liquor stores deemed an essential service, and alcohol easily available for delivery, many people have been turning to the bottle — including parents.
According to a study conducted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction shortly after the pandemic first threw our lives into chaos, seven out of ten Canadians were, obviously, at home more. And of those people, two out of ten reported an increase in their drinking — for different reasons.
Dr. Seonaid Nolan, a clinician researcher with the B.C. Centre on Substance Use, says the reasons for increased consumption differ between men and women.
“Women were more likely to cite that stress was the predominant reason for an increase in their alcohol consumption compared to men,” Nolan says. “Men were reporting an increase in their alcohol consumption mainly as a result of boredom.”
Registered clinical counsellor Kuldip Gill has also noticed the trend in her patients.
“People are describing a pattern of drinking more,” Gil says. “The lack of routine, structure that we had to our day, stress … all could be contributing reasons to why we are drinking more. People are developing different coping strategies.”
Sara Funk also increased her intake significantly in the first weeks of COVID restrictions.
Alcohol was an easy way for her and her husband to escape the stress and worry temporarily each night. But as the weeks have turned to months, both she and her partner are still indulging more than she is always comfortable with, and she worries how that might impact her three teens.
“They’ll be like ‘Are you drunk mom?’ That actually kind of bothers me where I’ll actually go ‘Oh, maybe they are paying attention?’” Funk says.
Join international colleagues at the Virtual Solutions for Substance Use Care Conference. Registration is free.
This conference will provide a good overview of the core elements of virtual mental health care given by international colleagues. From online prevention to psychotherapy and from risk assessment and management to virtual clinics. In workshops, you will get the opportunity to learn more about ongoing projects in detail with the opportunity for exchange and networking. The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, The University of British Columbia Addictions and Concurrent Disorders Research Group, and the World Psychiatric Association section for informatics and telemedicine have brought together a significant group of pioneers in this field with the aim of broadening the efforts of mental health and substance use care.
Register now for our webinar, Pain as Experienced by Individuals with FASD. This 60-minute webinar with Dr. Kathryn Birnie, Dr. Kyle Sue, Catherine (CJ) Lutke, and Myles Himmelreich will be held on November 27, 2020, at 1:00pm EST.
Pain as experienced by individuals with FASD is under-researched and frequently misunderstood and under-recognized in the medical community. People with FASD have varying levels of pain tolerance, ranging from high to low. This means that individuals with FASD may not recognize that they have an injury. Additionally, their disability may make them unable to communicate their pain. The stigma surrounding FASD may cause physicians to dismiss their pain as ‘made up’ or view it as a means to an end.
In the webinar, Dr. Kyle Sue will present on pain as experienced by individuals with FASD including topics such as the prevalence of pain and sensory issues, the biological underpinnings of pain, how pain presents in the real world, management of pain, and pain across the lifespan. Following this presentation, CJ Lutke and Myles Himmelreich will discuss how pain influences their lives as individuals with FASD. Dr. Kathryn Birnie will then provide an overview of Solutions for Kids in Pain (SKIP), a national knowledge mobilization network working to improve children’s pain management.
This webinar is geared towards individuals with FASD, caregivers, front-line workers, healthcare professionals, but all are welcome to attend. Be sure to register now!
Albertans will no longer have to pay out-of-pocket to receive treatment for addictions.
The provincial government announced Friday morning that the $40-per-day user fee to access publicly-funded residential treatment beds — or, $2,400 for 60 days of therapy — has been eliminated.
“We are giving all Albertans — regardless of their financial situation — the opportunity to recover and build a better life. Recovery is for everyone,” Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions, stated in the news release.
Low-income Albertans already had their costs for treatment covered by the government.
According to the news release, the Residential Addiction Treatment Allowance (RATA), provided through the Alberta Supports program, paid for the treatment of about 2,700 individuals, including about 200 recipients of the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program.
The change, the release said, will make residential addiction treatment available for “students, senior citizens, and people in the workforce who make too much to qualify for Income Support, but not enough to pay privately.”
Stress is a physiological response to an external threat, real or imagined. Stress is part of daily life and learning to manage stress is a key part of our development. The way we respond to stress is not fixed; our response can be influenced by learning strategies.
But stress can be traumatic or toxic if it occurs too often or if it occurs in high doses. Fear, stress, and anxiety are driven by the same physiological processes. What is most damaging to the human body is the occurrence of a prolonged stress response. Stress can overwhelm our ability to cope with our feelings and can cause physical and mental health problems. For example, research indicates that up to 90% of illnesses are related to stress.
It is important to remember that what creates stress is not so much the event that occurs but the way we react to the event.
Taking care of yourself is a key part of stress management. Here are some strategies that may help:
Get enough sleep (over 5 hours);
Prioritize tasks to avoid becoming overwhelmed;
Set boundaries between work and non-work time;
Take care of your physical wellbeing (i.e., exercise, drink water, etc.);
Remind yourself every day of the things you are thankful for; and
Create a strong support system.
Stress management for people with FASD
Stress management is also an important skill for children with FASD. A child’s ability to cope with stress has consequences on their physical and emotional health throughout their life. Stress management strategies begin at home with a caring adult. They evolve through patience, love, and connection.
Stress management helps children to:
gain a sense of control
learn how to relax
develop a can-do attitude
build capacity for self-regulation
improve executive functioning
Healthy stress management strategies provide the foundation to support anxiety, self-regulation, and resilience. A resilient child feels and believes:
“I can figure this out’
“I can ask for help”
“I can control my emotions”
“I am going to be okay”
“I can check my thoughts to see if they are negative or unrealistic”
“I belong and have purpose”
Help your loved ones build stress management strategies
Never underestimate who you are in the life of a child or vulnerable adult. A consistent, caring adult can make all the difference in a child’s ability to cope with stress. To support coping strategies, ask your child questions like: What makes you feel worried?What do you feel in your body?How do you feel?
Listen to your child’s perspective in the moment. Help them to check in with their body, their feelings, and their minds.
Body: stretch, breath, move, get physical exercise
Feelings: check in with how you’re feeling in order to start recognizing stress
Mind: take deep breaths to increase blood flow to the brain
Building connection is extremely important in building self-regulation skills, fostering resiliency, and overcoming feelings of anxiety. Take some time to listen to your child. Connect through relaxing activities, like board games, crafts, or hiking.
Take care of yourself
But remember, it is important to take care of yourself. If you are too tired to give much to your loved one with FASD, simply smile and say their name. This action alone can help build positive connections.
Stress management is important at all ages, from infancy through to adulthood. Listening to your loved one, setting examples for how you handle stress, and giving gentle verbal and visual guidance can help your child develop stress management skills that will last throughout their lifetime.
This class was not specific for parents and caregivers of those with FASD, so some of the information provided may not apply to you or your family. Read our most recent blog for more information about stress and FASD.
Streamed live on April 6, CASA has a discussion with addictions experts and those with lived addictions experience on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the lives of those struggling or recovering from addictions, and how you can help.