Research Centre News – May 2021

Written by Isabelle Crépeau MLIS, Scientific Information Officer

Post-Partum Anxiety & Depression Care: MPower

Post-partum anxiety and depression is very common and sometimes access to treatment can be difficult. The MPower pilot randomized trial is investigating the feasibility of identifying women who are suffering from depression and/or anxiety within the first few months of delivery and offering them access to an online resource, the “Healthy Moms” website. Half of the women in the study have access only to the website, and the other half have access to the website and receive calls from a lay-coach to support them in their use of the website.

Preliminary results show that women who received calls from a coach were much more likely to use the website. The final results will be available by the fall of 2021. This research is especially pertinent given that the pandemic has highlighted the importance of telemedicine. The target of this research is to be able to provide a first step to receive care to as many women as possible in the post-partum period who are affected by anxiety and/or depression.

Dr. Hannah Schwartz completed her residency in psychiatry at McGill University and a fellowship in perinatal and early childhood psychiatry at Université de Montréal. Dr. Schwartz’s clinical activity includes consultation-liaison activity to St. Mary’s Department of Obstetrics, which comprises a Perinatal Mental Health clinic.

First-Line Nutritional Counselling for Patients with Severe Mental Illness

In recent years, Dr. Laura LaChance and her team have published a series of review articles about the impact of nutrition interventions on mental health in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. As part of the knowledge translation plan, the team developed a worksheet and accompanying clinician guide designed to promote nutritional counselling as part of mental health care for this patient population. The goal was to provide evidence-based background information and practical tips such that any member of the health care team could provide basic nutritional counselling to patients with severe mental illness without the requirement of specific training in nutrition.

The clinical tool was evaluated by focus groups and individual interviews with patient and clinician participants. Both qualitative and quantitative data was collected and incorporated into the final version of the tool. Following publication to an open-access peer-reviewed journal, our worksheet and clinician guide will be available to anyone looking to introduce some nutritional counselling into care for patients with severe mental illness.

This first-line dietary intervention is not meant to replace the important role of dieticians but to increase access to nutritional intervention for a population where the uptake of nutritional counselling has typically been very low. Nutritional interventions have the potential to improve both physical and mental health in this population at high risk of physical comorbidity and mental health disability. 

Laura Lachance is a psychiatrist at St. Mary’s Hospital in Montréal and a clinician-researcher at McGill University in the Department of Psychiatry. She completed her residency training in psychiatry at the University of Toronto in 2017 and completed a research fellowship in the Social Aetiology of Mental Illness (SAMI) at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Dr. LaChance has participated in research within the field of nutritional psychiatry since 2014. Her research interests include understanding the mental health impact of nutritional interventions as well as exploring service delivery models to improve the physical health of patients with severe mental illness by targeting health behaviours.