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Above: Yanekah Jacobs participates in a telemedicine session with Dr. Beverley Young

Donor support allows Sinai Health experts from several of clinical programs to address care and service gaps, supporting moms and families from all walks of life.

Pregnancy and the time after the birth of a child are often thought of as the happiest time for parents. But the early days of parenthood can be overwhelming, with as many as one in five new moms developing mental health issues during pregnancy or baby’s first year.

Sinai Health’s perinatal mental health program — one of the nation’s largest, caring for 1,000 new patients each year —  recently piloted a way to use mobile devices to screen new mothers for post-partum depression. The text-message questions are quick and easy to answer during baby’s nap time. The responses help identify at-risk moms, who are then contacted by a mental health professional.

Some moms are unable to travel to Mount Sinai — due to their location, physical limitations, severe mental health issues or financial constraints. The program’s telemedicine service lets these patients use a tablet, smartphone or computer to video conference with a mental health specialist from their own home.

Recently, the program introduced a first-in-Canada service to support the one in ten new dads who experience depression or other mental illnesses that interfere with life at home and at work. The program helps dads overcome the “strong and silent” stereotype through their transition to parenthood.