Thursday, September 22, 2016

Media stories on BC's Mental Health System and Legal Challenges to BC's Mental Health Act

Sarah Leamon: It's time to change B.C.'s Mental Health Act

British Columbia’s Mental Health Act is under fire. On September 12, a legal action was filed in B.C. Supreme Court. It is challenging the constitutional validity of the legislation and argues that the forced treatment of patients, who are suffering from mental illness, is done in breach of their charter rights.

By way of background, under the Mental Health Act, any person who is involuntarily detained at a facility for mental-health reasons lacks the ability to consent, or deny consent, to any medical treatment. In other words, they are deemed to consent to all psychiatric treatment so long as it is authorized by a director appointed by the health authority. It also denies them the ability to designate and appoint a substitute decision maker on their behalf, such as a spouse or a parent. 

This means that patients who have been involuntarily detained may be subjected to medical treatments against their will. Treatments can include medication, including injections, and invasive therapies, such as electroconvulsive therapy.

The Mental Health Act is in stark contrast to the law governing general health care in this province. This law states that service providers cannot treat a patient without their express consent. The only exception to this is if there is an emergency or otherwise extraordinary and urgent circumstance. It also allows individuals who are not afflicted with mental-health issues to select substitute decision makers or make directive plans for their future care in the event that they would be unable to make such decisions or provide such consent on their own. In this way, it puts patient autonomy and dignity at its forefront.

British Columbia is actually the only province in this country to retain such a seemingly outdated legislative model. In all other provinces, all adult patients—afflicted with mental illness or not—are presumed to be capable of making decisions related to their own treatment until they are evaluated and proven incapable. Our province is therefore the only jurisdiction in which patients with mental illness are considered to be legally incompetent solely on the basis of their medical condition.

Read the full article here:


B.C. patients launch court challenge over forced psychiatric treatments

Other articles and advocacy on mental health issues:

Young, T.A. (2010). Editorial: Mental health services need an overhaul. The Province.

Young, T. (December, 2012). Tragedy results from mental health system, safety net that fall. Vancouver SunRetrieved from:

Tracey Young: How Many Must Suffer, Die, Before Action? (February 8, 2013). Retrieved from:

VPD apprehensions under the Mental Health Act level off but remain high

Lupick, T. (August 24th, 2016). Georgia Straight. Retrieved from:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Understanding Schizophrenia, BC Information and Resources

Mystery of schizophrenia

What Psychiatrists Do

The psychiatric mystique

Dr. Paul Latimber (2012). Castanet: Kelowna page. Retrieved from:

For many people unfamiliar with the experience, the thought of seeing a psychiatrist seems a very mysterious business – akin to visiting a fortune teller or psychic.
Many people seem to have little idea of what a psychiatrist actually does, what training is involved and what might be uncovered during a session. As a result, most visit a psychiatrist with a certain degree of trepidation.
Unfortunately, Hollywood characterizations don’t help much. Most often, these movie portrayals are unrealistic and not very flattering of the profession.
I’d like to help dispel some of the mystery.
Psychiatrists are medical specialists just like cardiologists, surgeons, obstetricians, dermatologists or others. This means the educational training usually involves an undergraduate university degree of three or four years, a medical degree of three or four years, an internship of one or two years, a residency of an additional four to six years and sometimes a postgraduate degree like a PhD for a further three to five years.
In psychiatry, the special interest and training is in mental illness, which can include everything from attention deficit disorder to schizophrenia. Some specialize in one illness or group of illnesses like depression and other mood disorders while others specialize in certain age groups such as children or the elderly.
Psychiatry and psychology are also often confused. Although there is a big overlap between the two disciplines, the essential difference is that psychiatrists are medically trained while psychologists are not.
Many people have the mistaken idea that psychiatrists are only interested in prescribing medication and are not interested in psychotherapy. This is not true.
Psychiatrists are unique in the ability to prescribe medication for mental illness, but are also trained in various types of psychotherapy and are still interested in other aspects of a patient’s life and problems. In most cases, education and therapy are necessary in addition to medication.
A lot has changed in the field since the days of Freud - and we shouldn’t expect psychiatry to look the same as it did a century or more ago. Today we are very fortunate to have a variety of effective, evidence-based treatments both pharmaceutical and not.
Confusion also arises because patients sometimes have unrealistic expectations about what therapy involves and how much time it takes. This confusion is fostered by media portrayals and fringe therapists with little training who may offer strange therapies based on little evidence and flimsy theories.
If a psychiatrist doesn’t offer a particular therapy it often isn’t due to unwillingness or inability to conduct that treatment, but is because of a belief the therapy isn’t necessary in the specific situation.
Generally a psychiatrist will tailor treatment to meet the specific needs of the individual based on the presenting problems and what the patient wants. We are not usually trying to address every problem a person has and we don’t try to completely re-shape a personality.
Unfortunately, there are still many problems for which we don’t have very good solutions and many others that do not require psychotherapy. Sometimes people in the depths of depression become troubled about things from their past that do not normally concern them. In many cases, treatment of the depression is the first step rather than focusing on the particulars of a temporary preoccupation.
If you are seeing a psychiatrist and are uncertain of an approach or treatment focus, the best thing to do is ask about it. Your psychiatrist may explain his or her reasons or take your lead and pursue another avenue with you.
Remember, the average psychiatrist will have seen your problem hundreds if not thousands of times.
Something that seems strange, inexplicable and frightening to you may be very familiar to your doctor and it is likely the psychiatrist has a well practiced approach to the problem. This is one reason why simply talking with a psychiatrist for the first time is often very comforting and leads to substantial improvement even before any specific treatment is prescribed.
Your psychiatrist is not interested in judging you and will not think less of you because of the problems you bring. We deal with difficult situations all the time and are here for one reason – to hear your problem and work with you to find a solution.
When you are motivated, your psychiatrist will usually be quite interested in working with you and will not usually give up unless you do. However, if you give up, stop taking your medication or attending appointments, the psychiatrist will not be able to help you.
If you want to see a psychiatrist, speak with your family doctor and ask for a referral. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Older Adult Mental Health: Symptoms, Risks, Treatments for Depression

Geriatric Depression: Symptoms, Risk Factors and Treatments

Around 7 million of the nation’s 39 million adults ages 65 years and older are affected by depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although a majority of older adults are not depressed, they have an increased risk of developing depression, which is a persistent sad, anxious or empty feeling, or a feeling of hopelessness and pessimism.
Unfortunately, depression in older adults is often not recognized or treated. Symptoms may be mistaken for natural reactions to illness or life changes that occur during aging. Geriatric depression is associated with an increased risk of suicide, decreased physical, cognitive and social functioning, and greater self-neglect, reports the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology.
Due to its consequences, geriatric depression is regarded as a major public health problem. On a more positive note, the CDC says that it is “fairly easy to detect” and “highly treatable.”
Depression can cause feelings of sadness or anxiety that last for weeks at a time. Additionally, a wide range of other symptoms may be present.
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness and helplessness
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities once pleasurable
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Sleeping difficulties or irregular sleeping patterns
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Persistent aches or pains that do not get better, despite treatment
Depressed individuals over the age of 65 are less likely than younger individuals to exhibit dysphoria, which is a state of unease or general dissatisfaction with life, a study in the Journal of Gerontology found. Older individuals with depression are more likely than younger individuals to experience sleep disturbance, fatigue, psychomotor retardation, loss of interest in living and hopelessness, according to Psychological Medicine.
Additionally, older depressed individuals commonly complain of poor memory and concentration. The Archives of General Psychiatry found that patients with late-life depression had slower cognitive processing speed and performed poorer in all cognitive domains.

Risk Factors

“Non-genetic biological risk factors for depression are particularly important in old age,” says the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology. Several factors have been associated with late-age depression.
  • Endocrine dysregulation, bone loss and certain medications (beta blockers, central nervous system medications, hormones, anti-Parkinson agents, certain cancer medications and others) may cause late-life depression.
  • Around 20 to 25 percent of heart disease patients experience major depression, and another 20 to 25 percent experience symptoms of depression not meeting criteria for major depressive disorder, according to Biological Psychiatry.
  • Dementia may be a risk factor for depression, but diabetes is not. Rather, the evidence suggests that depression is a risk factor for diabetes.
  • Stroke patients have the highest rates of major depression (20 to 25 percent) among other neurological disorders. Rates are intermediate (15 to 20 percent) for Parkinson’s disease compared to Alzheimer’s disease (10 to 15 percent).
  • Anxiety disorder and sleep disturbance are also risk factors for depression among older adults.
Social risk factors for depression, though less important in old age, can become more significant in very old age when individuals face greater losses and fewer resources. As with other ages,Psychology and Aging found that late-life depression is linked to the number of stressful life events experienced. Also, troubled relationships can explain depressed older individuals, including spousal depression, marital conflict and perceived family criticism. In The Journals of Gerontology, financial trouble is one of the most common stressful life events experienced by older adults.

Treatment and Prevention

In a review of evidence-based therapies for depression in older adults, Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice named the following as beneficial: behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive bibliotherapy, problem-solving therapy, brief psychodynamic therapy and reminiscence therapy. A behavioral treatment plan for depression in nursing homes was successful in Clinical Case Studies. It found a strong increase in positive affect and activity level after a 10-session program for increasing pleasant activities was administered. In the Journal of Mental Health and Aging, a meta-analysis found that psychotherapeutic interventions changed self-rated depression and other measures of psychological well-being in older adults by about one half standard deviation and clinician-rated depression by more than one standard deviation.
In 2007, an expert panel recommended home- or clinic-based depression care management (DCM) along with cognitive behavioral therapy for older adults with depression, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports. DCM uses a team approach with a trained social worker, nurse or other practitioner alongside a primary care provider who prescribes treatments in consultation with a psychiatrist. Clinical trials link DCM to a reduction in depression symptoms, higher remission rates and improvements in health-related quality of life, reports the CDC.
Prevention efforts are often directed to those who are at an increased risk of disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry found that treating all patients with subsyndromal depressive symptoms could prevent 24.6 percent of new depression onsets in that period. In Aging & Mental Health, cognitive behavioral therapy demonstrated significant benefits in the prevention of depression in nursing home residents. Treatment of insomnia and other sleep disturbance is a valuable opportunity to prevent depression in older adults, given the highly effective nature of cognitive behavioral treatments for insomnia in this age group. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry identified that individual educational interventions for subjects with chronic illness, individual therapy for at-risk bereaved older adults, cognitive-behavioral interventions to reduce negative thinking and life review were interventions with the most empirical support. Programs to reduce social isolation may also help prevent depression in older adults.
Helping Seniors in the Community
Human services professionals can join healthcare professionals and families to provide support for older adults who have or are at risk for depression. From clinics and nursing homes to homeless shelters, a variety of environments exist where individuals are particularly at risk for developing depression. Professionals trained to work with older adults and lead initiatives in the community can make a difference.
Southeastern University offers an online B.S. in Human Services and an online M.A. in Human Services to positively impact seniors. Both programs equip graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to work in and lead human service environments. The master’s program offers a gerontology specialization, and both degree options take place in a convenient online format.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Domestic Violence Exposure in Childhood Leads to Increased Suicide Risk in Adulthood

The Childhood Incidents That Increase Later Suicide Risk

Exposure to domestic violence, abuse cast a long shadow, study finds
Retrieved from:

MONDAY, June 13, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Adults who witnessed parental domestic violence in childhood are at increased risk for suicide attempts, a new study finds.

“When domestic violence is chronic in a home, there is a risk of long-term negative outcomes for the children, even when the children themselves are not abused,” said study lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson. She is a professor with the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work.

The researchers examined data from more than 22,500 Canadian adults. They found that about 17 percent of those exposed to chronic parental domestic violence (more than 10 times before age 16) had attempted suicide, compared with roughly 2 percent of those not exposed to parental domestic violence.

“We had expected that the association between chronic parental domestic violence and later suicide attempts would be explained by childhood sexual or physical abuse, or by mental illness and substance abuse,” Fuller-Thomson said in a university news release. “However, even when we took these factors into account, those exposed to chronic parental domestic violence still had more than twice the odds of having attempted suicide.”

These chaotic home environments cast a long shadow, she added.

“Social workers and health professionals must continue to work vigilantly to prevent domestic violence and to support survivors of this abuse and their children,” Fuller-Thomson said.

The study also found that adults who were maltreated during their childhood were more likely to have attempted suicide. Almost 17 percent of those who’d been sexually abused and more than 12 percent of physically abused children were later found to have made at least one suicide attempt, said study co-author Reshma Dhrodia, a recent Master of Social Work graduate.

The researchers also found that a history of major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and/or chronic pain was associated with significantly higher odds of a suicide attempt.

The study was published online June 9 in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development.

More information
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry outlines how to help children exposed to domestic violence.

Trauma-informed care and practice resources for adults

Trauma-Informed Care and Practice 

To provide trauma-informed care to children, youth, and families involved with child welfare, professionals must understand the impact of trauma on child development and learn how to effectively minimize its effects without causing additional trauma (Child Welfare Information Gateway).

Below are resources that are helpful to support the development of trauma-informed practices and provide helpers with opportunities to develop enhanced knowledge and skills in supporting adults coping with trauma. I will be providing a separate post for trauma-related resources for children and youth.


Trauma-informed Practice Guide (2013). Retrieved from:
  • The Trauma-Informed Practice (TIP) Guide and TIP Organizational Checklist are intended to support the translation of trauma-informed principles into practice. Included are concrete strategies to guide the professional work of practitioners assisting clients with mental health and substance use (MHSU) concerns in British Columbia. 
Authors: Emily Arthur, Amanda Seymour, Michelle Dartnall, Paula Beltgens, Nancy Poole, Diane Smylie, Naomi North, and Rose Schmidt
Initial draft authors: Cristine Urquhart and Fran Jasiura of Change Talk Associates
British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health; BC Ministry of Health, Mental Health and Substance Use Branch; and Vancouver Isl
and Health Authority, Youth and Family Substance Use Services, 2013.

Trauma-informed: The Trauma Toolkit Second Edition (2013). Klinic Community Health Centre (Manitoba). Retrieved from:
  • A resource for service organizations and providers to deliver services that are trauma-informed
Trauma-informed Approaches in Addictions Treatment (2010). Retrieved from:

  • A discussion guide to gendering the National Framework for Action to Reduce the Harms Associated with Alcohol and Other Drugs and Substances in Canada. Identifies Canadian examples of promising practices in action. Lists discussion questions on providing integrated approaches.

Authors: British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (BCCEWH) in partnership with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) and the Universities of Saskatchewan and South Australia, 2010.

United States

National Center for Trauma-Informed Care

Seeking Safety: A Treatment Manual for PTSD and Substance Abuse 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Student Loan Debt & Mental Health Impacts

Schools look to address mental health impact of rising student debt

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

HeadsUpGuys: Support and Help for Men Experiencing Depression


Men Get Depressed

It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a fact. Guys get depressed. Depression affects 840,000 men every year in Canada, and is the second leading cause of disability worldwide.

There are many misconceptions about depression that make it difficult for men to talk to others and take charge of their health.

Check out the site to read about Myths and Reality of coping with depression. Find out about Symptoms, a Self-check tool, learn more about triggers and risk factors. 

Depression Can be Treated

Ignoring or hiding the pain of depression only makes things worse. This site will provide you with tips and tools, information about professional services, and stories of success that show you how depression can be overcome.

It starts with you recognizing depression and then making important changes in your life to overcome it. It takes courage. It takes strength. It takes work. But know that it can be done.

Take the next step in your recovery and learn more about what men’s depression looks like.

You Are Not Alone

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Research: Cognitive behavioral therapy, with medication reduces depression long-term

Adding behavioral therapy to meds reduces depression long-term

Doyle, K. (January 27, 2016). Reuters. Retrieved from:

(Reuters Health) - When depression does not respond to antidepressant medication, replacing it with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or adding CBT to treatment may be effective and last for several years, according to a trial in the U.K.

Three to five years after having up to 18 CBT sessions, trial participants were less depressed than those who didn’t get the added behavioral therapy, suggesting a long-term benefit that makes CBT cost-effective, the authors conclude.

“Antidepressants are often prescribed for people with depression but we know that many people do not respond fully to such treatment,” said lead author Nicola J. Wiles of the Center for Academic Mental Health at the University of Bristol.

“We previously found that giving (cognitive behavioral therapy) in addition to usual care that included antidepressant medication was effective in reducing depressive symptoms and improving quality of life over a period of 12 months in patients whose depression had not responded to treatment with antidepressants,”

Wiles said by email. “However, prior to this study, there was little evidence of effectiveness over the long-term.”

Wiles’ team followed up on a trial done in 73 general practices in the U.K. Between 2008 and 2010, 469 patients aged 18 to 75 years who had taken antidepressants for at least six weeks and still had substantial depressive symptoms were randomly assigned to either continue receiving usual care or to usual care with the addition of CBT.

Those in the CBT group attended 12 to 18 sessions with a therapist over about four to five months.

Three to five years later, the researchers followed up using general practitioner notes and questionnaires mailed to patients. The questionnaires were designed to gauge depression and also quality of life. Of the original group, 248 patients completed and returned the questionnaires.

Compared to those who only got usual care, the average depressive symptom score was about 5 points lower, on a scale of 0 to 63, for those who had received the CBT, even though those sessions had ended an average of 40 months earlier.

“People who are depressed often think about themselves and the world in a different and more negative way compared with how they thought before their illness,” Wiles said. “Cognitive behavioural therapy, a type of talking therapy, is a way of helping people with depression change the way they think in order to improve how they feel and to change what they do.”

Patients learn skills to help them better manage their mood that they continue to use even after therapy sessions stop, she said.

In the trial, cognitive behavioral therapy cost an average of 343 British Pounds, or $489, annually per patient, the authors note in The Lancet Psychiatry.

“In our long-term follow-up, we found that CBT as an adjunct to usual care represented very good value for money for the health service,” Wiles said.

There have been initiatives to increase access to such treatments in England and Australia, but they have focused on so-called low intensity interventions like computerized therapy packages and guided self-help, for which there is little evidence of long-term effectiveness, Wiles said.

The high intensity therapy delivered as part of general practice care in the U.K. trial reduced the significant burden to patients and healthcare systems caused by depression that does not respond to antidepressants, she said.

“It is very clear but often forgotten that depression is a long-term disease and most of the evidence that we have about what works comes from very short term studies,” said Dr. Rudolf Uher of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, who coauthored a commentary on the new results.

“This is the first demonstration that psychological treatment can be delivered efficiently in routine primary care,” Uher told Reuters Health.

High-quality psychological treatment is often only available with out-of-pocket payment, and isn’t standardized or promoted the way that pharmaceutical treatment is, he said.

“This shows that what would be considered a luxurious treatment actually pays for itself,” he said.

But, he emphasized, even in this trial many patients were still at least somewhat depressed after treatment, and most were not “cured.”

SOURCE: and The Lancet Psychiatry, online January 7, 2016.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Research: One out of 10 fathers experiences Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression affects one in 10 fathers

We don’t often hear about it, but fathers also suffer from postpartum depression, but talking about it can help

Billy Monk’s second child, an eight-pound, four-ounce boy named Conway with a mop of strawberry-blond hair, was born in the spring of 2014.

Soon after, the Burlington dad was hit by an overwhelming feeling: He wanted to run away from everything in his life. At his job as a software developer, Billy kept his head down, avoiding coworkers as much as possible. He tried to steer clear of neighbours while walking his dog. And friends? Billy stopped hanging out with them altogether. “I just wanted to be alone,” he recalls.

Back at home, where Billy couldn’t escape, life became a mess. “I would have these outbursts where I would more or less say, ‘Everything’s terrible, I’m unhappy, everything sucks, I don’t see the point in anything,’ ” he says.

It was a similar feeling to what he’d experienced after the birth of his older son, Nolan, but much more severe. The major eye-opener, according to his wife Danielle, was some silly disagreement where Billy just flipped. “He started yelling about how this isn’t his life,” she says.

It was totally out of character. Billy — a hip-looking 31-year-old with colourful tattoos and a red-tinged beard — is a loving father, an optimist and “the most wonderful person,” as Danielle, 27, puts it.

But at the time, he was likely dealing with a condition people rarely talk about in men: Postpartum depression. 

While depression in women during and after pregnancy has long been discussed in parenting classes and media coverage, dads with the so-called “baby blues” are often left in the dark. And that’s a problem. PPD hits moms more often — up to 20 per cent of women who give birth every year have postpartum depression symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control — but a surprising number of men deal with it, too.

One 2010 American study, looking at data involving more than 28,000 men, found 10 per cent of new dads have postpartum depression. And, as a recent Canadian study shows, plenty of fathers experience depression before the baby is born as well. Led by a team from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, the Quebec-based research found around 13 per cent of expectant dads dealt with symptoms of depression during their partner’s pregnancy.

Other studies coming out of Europe and Australia have signalled similar rates of 10 to 14 per cent, says senior author Dr. Deborah Da Costa.

But dads often don’t hear about it. “When we would walk into clinics or prenatal classes, men were shocked that we would want to talk to them,” Da Costa says.

On top of that, experts say men are less likely to talk about their feelings than women, leading to a lack of understanding and awareness about depression in dads. While moms may be more inclined to show their sadness and stress outwardly by crying, dads tend to express it in different ways — often through anger — and may also self-medicate with alcohol, detach from family life and, as in Billy’s case, lash out at their partner.

Bernadette Kint, manager for healthy families with Toronto Public Health, says dads coping with depression can become hypercritical of themselves and others, and can sometimes resort to escapist behaviour like watching television for hours on end or staying out as late as possible.

If it goes unaddressed, depression can have a host of negative implications for child development, bonding between the dad and kids, and the relationship between the parents, says Brian Russell, provincial co-ordinator for Dad Central Ontario.

The good news? Men, just like women, can eventually overcome depression as a new parent — with some help.

Any dads struggling with depression symptoms should connect with their family doctor to get a referral for specialized treatment, says child psychiatrist Dr. Andrew Howlett, who runs the Fathers’ Mental Health Program at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto.

“Major depressive episodes without treatment can last months, with gradual improvements over time,” Howlett says. But for dads who do go through treatment, things can start to improve after just a few sessions.

Men also need to be open about what they’re going through — even if talking about their feelings is a bit foreign to them — and ask for help from their support network. “Whether it’s their own parents, siblings or friends, they’ve got to be able to talk with other people,” says Russell.

Communication between both partners is key as well, since each parent may go through a bout of depression, with the periods sometimes overlapping. That was the case for the Monks, with Billy’s depression spanning the first three or so months after each child’s birth, and Danielle’s following after.
Billy finally sought out help in the months after Conway’s birth — after urging from Danielle — and started opening up to others about his experience at a fathers group in Mimico.

“That was a big help,” he says. “In these groups, you’ll find people in a very similar situation to you. They’re a lot more likely to open up to you in a situation like that than someone would be in the office.”

Looking back on the parenting classes they took together before having kids, Billy says he never learned about PPD in men. The classes just stuck to the ABCs of being a parent, like how to change a diaper. “It didn’t broach the subject of the emotions — it did for women, but not for men,” he recalls.

Canadian researchers like Howlett and Da Costa are hoping to change things.

On Father’s Day in 2014, Howlett launched the Fathers Mental Health Network with fellow Toronto psychiatrist Dr. Benjamin Rosen. The network’s website is meant to be a mental-health information tool for both doctors and patients, linking dads to community resources, treatment programs and depression screening tools. 

Da Costa is also developing an upcoming website for dads, based on research that revealed many men aren’t satisfied with the information available for parents online since it’s usually tailored to moms.

Now armed with knowledge about the impact of depression, the Monks regularly go to counselling together and Danielle is on medication to help with her PPD symptoms. And, with baby number three on the way, they also have plans in place to exercise, watch their alcohol intake and maintain a healthy diet in hopes of staying healthy as parents in a growing family.

Despite the dark moments, Danielle says the experience brought their family closer together. “Every moment that we’re able to, we’re together and doing things and supporting each other. I feel so much pride looking at our family and what we’ve overcome, and how we’ve bonded as a result.”

As for Billy, who eventually overcame his PPD, he’s relishing every beautiful moment with his growing kids. “There’s no part of being a father that I don’t like,” he says.


Dads Get Sad Too: Depressive Symptoms and Associated Factors in Expectant First-Time Fathers

This cross-sectional study aims to determine the prevalence and determinants of depressive symptoms in first-time expectant fathers during their partner’s third trimester of pregnancy. As part of a prospective study examining depressive symptoms in men over the first postnatal year, 622 men (mean age = 34.3 years, ±5.0 years) completed standardized online self-report questionnaires measuring depressed mood, physical activity, sleep quality, social support, marital adjustment, life events, financial stress, and demographics during their partner’s third trimester of pregnancy. The Edinburgh Depression Scale was used to assess depressed mood. Partners also completed the Edinburgh Depression Scale in the third trimester. The results revealed that 13.3% of expectant fathers exhibited elevated levels of depressive symptoms during their partner’s third trimester of pregnancy. Significant independent factors associated with antenatal depressive symptoms in men were poorer sleep quality, family history of psychological difficulties, lower perceived social support, poorer marital satisfaction, more stressful life events in the preceding 6 months, greater number of financial stressors, and elevated maternal antenatal depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the importance of including fathers in the screening and early prevention efforts targeting depression during the transition to parenthood, which to date have largely focused only on women. Strategies to promote better sleep, manage stress, and mobilize social support may be important areas to address in interventions tailored to new fathers at risk for depression during the transition to parenthood.                   

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Seven Tips for Setting Realistic New Year’s Goals

              New Years Resolution image

7 Tips for Setting Realistic New Year’s Goals

Lana Dunn (

Happy New Year!

The start of the new year is the perfect time to reflect on the past and clarify the path forward.  These 7 tips will help you set realistic goals to make 2016 your most productive, successful and enjoyable year yet!
  1. Build on PAST SUCCESSES – A great way to start setting goals for the new year is to take the time to look backwards first. Review where you have come from.  Consider what worked last year; think about what goals you are carrying over; identify what didn’t work and the lessons you gained from those experiences.  Goals that are integrated into the bigger picture of your life have more meaning than “one offs”.
  1. Consider having a THEME for the year – Ask yourself, what is the foundation upon which my success this year will be built? Is it improved health?  Reaching a specific business target?  Dedicating more time to family?  Committing to a social cause?  Perhaps you have a personal or professional trait or skill that will help to elevate your life and your work to the next level.  Think of things likeintention or patience, decluttering or presence.  Those concepts can become your overarching theme, acting as the base upon which you can build your best year.
  1. Think QUALITY not QUANTITY – Defining three or four high quality goals offers you the chance to focus your energy, resources and intention in more specific ways. Using your theme as the launching pad, a handful of carefully constructed goals can act as the fuel to move you forward.  Having fewer but meaningful goals allows you to focus your attention.  Having too many serves only to dilute the time you have to dedicate to each one.
  1. Create BENCHMARKS – How will you know you are remaining on track? What are the crucial milestones for your goals?  When and how will you check in with yourself?  Like any work worth doing, you need to stay on top of the progress being made, and course correct as necessary.  Many goals are left by the side of the road due to inattention.  Keep your goals alive and measure your progress against your defined criteria.  It not only helps ensure you are staying true to the course, but also acts as a motivator to keep you on track.
  1. Remind yourself this is a MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT! – Be patient; Rome wasn’t built in a day. The journey towards achievement of your goals is rich with learnings; the benefits don’t only show up once the goal is reached.  Make note of lessons you learn, and incorporate them into your goals.  If your goals include breaking an old or developing a new habit or pattern of behaving, remember it takes time.  Developing a new habit requires consistent practice over many weeks (some say 21 days, other 30, still others argue for 45!).  If your goal is worth your time and attention, it is most certainly worth investing the time to see it come to fruition.
  1. Be willing to be FLEXIBLE – Do your goals need tweaking as you progress? Have circumstances changed?  Is new information available that suggests a different course of action?  Nothing is more frustrating than to spend your time and energy doing something well that never should have been done in the first place.  Stay intentional and purposeful as the weeks and months pass.
  1. Be SMART – The concept of setting “SMART” goals was first introduced in 1981. Though many authors have modified some of the letters, the original concept remains relevant today.   Ensuring your goals are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic andTimely has been shown to increase the likelihood of their successful achievement.     
I read a great quote about goal setting some time ago that resonated with me, and always helps me stay on track:
“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal.
A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan.
A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.”  

There is little magic involved in goal setting and goal achievement.  Following the tips outlined above and then doing the work will provide you with the opportunity to move through 2016 with a purpose, and allow you to make significant growth in your life and work in a short time.

Lana Dunn, M.Ed., R. Psych.
Trainer, Crisis and Trauma Resource Institute

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