July Business in Calgary featuring MOMS Link
Friday, July 1, 2016
BY MEGHAN OCKEY AND ANDREA MENDIZABAL
Bringing a new life into the world can be one of the most
rewarding and fulfilling life experiences. One challenge
that too many new moms and their families face is the
debilitating condition known as post-partum depression. Postpartum
depression affects up to 10 per cent of new mothers
(according to the Canadian Psychological Association, 2015),
which impacts not only mothers but families as well.
MOMS Link™, a program developed by Nicole Letourneau,
a professor at the University of Calgary’s faculty of nursing,
is helping moms in an effort to combat the effects of postpartum
Mothers with post-partum depression not only experience
low mood, but are also less able to look after themselves or
their baby, which has the potential to negatively impact the
“It’s not only problematic for the mother, it’s problematic for
their children who end up with cognitive and language delays,
problems with peer relationships, and struggles in school,”
says Letourneau professor and Palix/ACHF chair in parentinfant
mental health, faculty of nursing, University of Calgary.
Letourneau, a PhD prepared nurse and member of the
Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, developed
MOMS Link™ after studying the long-term effects of postpartum
“One of the consequences is that it affects the child, not
because of the symptoms per se, but because of how moms
interact with their child. Moms are less sensitive and
responsive; they don’t have the necessary serve-and-return
interactions with their child. We believe that’s the reason
why the child’s development is affected,” says Letourneau.
As the name suggests, MOMS Link™ joins moms together in a
support network aimed at combating post-partum depression.
“I worked with a colleague, Cindy-Lee Dennis, professor and
Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Community Health, who
had developed a program to prevent depression in moms.
Together we adapted it to treat symptoms of depression;
not just prevent depression,” says Letourneau. “We made
it available to every mom in the province (the program was
first developed and deployed in New Brunswick) who had
access to a phone and was depressed.”
Post-partum depression is similar to other types of
depression – the sufferer is likely to isolate and not ask for
help. Coupled with already exhausting care of a newborn, it
is especially difficult on a new mother.
“We initially worked with New Brunswick’s non-urgent
health-care call centre (Tele-Care 811) to screen mothers.
Anyone who called with a child under the age of two could
be screened,” says Letourneau. “If they screened high on our
measures, they were eligible for the program. We provided
eligible mothers with a peer mentor who had overcome postpartum
depression and would speak to the mom for one
hour a week for 12 weeks. At the end of the program 89 per
cent of the mothers were no longer depressed.”
Success of the program thus far is in large part due to a
partnership the MOMS Link™ program developed with
Sykes Assistance Services, the provider of New Brunswick’s
Tele-Care 811 program.
Sykes Assistance Services is now positioned to deliver MOMS
Link™ to health regions across Canada – and are looking for
partner communities with which to deliver the program.
When the consequences of post-partum depression can be so
grave, it is essential that families suffering the effects receive the
help they require. With MOMS Link™, women can receive this
help in their own home without the added stress of finding help
elsewhere. It has proven successful in New Brunswick, and has
the potential to help many more families across Canada.
To learn more about MOMS Link™ and how to bring it to your
community, contact Jim Murphy, vice president, healthcare
strategy and business development, Sykes Assistance Services,
1-866-522-6148 or email@example.com.
To learn more about Innovate Calgary and how it supports
new and emerging technology, visit innovatecalgary.com.
JULY 2016 // BUSINESS IN CALGARY // BUSINESSINCALGARY.COM