Maternal health and well-being is an important public health issue, of which mental health is a key component. Data shows that while most new and expectant mothers report good mental health and high life satisfaction, experiences of postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety are common in Canada.

Research shows that PPD and poor mental health are detrimental to the well-being of mothers and can, if left untreated, adversely affect infant development (e.g. low birth weight, preterm birth, increased risk of mental health problems in the child later in life), as well as leave partners and other family members (including fathers, who are at an elevated risk for depression or anxiety) feeling overwhelmed.

Fortunately, multiple effective and well-researched treatment options are available to help women recover, and research shows that social and emotional support from partners and other family members throughout the perinatal period can reduce the likelihood of PPD and emotional distress for both mothers and newborns.

This edition of Facts and Stats explores the mental health of new and expectant mothers in Canada, with a focus on family well-being.

Highlights include:

  • In 2018–2019, most (60%) mothers who recently gave birth rated their mental health as excellent or very good, while nearly one-quarter (23%) reported feelings consistent with PPD or an anxiety disorder.
  • In 2018–2019, 30% of mothers who recently gave birth under the age of 25 reported feelings consistent with PPD or an anxiety disorder, compared with 23% among those 25 or older.
  • In 2018–2019, nearly one-third (32%) of recent mothers who reported feelings consistent with PPD or an anxiety disorder said they have received treatment for their emotions or mental health since the birth of their child.
  • Maternal mental health is affected by socio-economic status, with research showing higher rates of PPD and depressive symptoms among mothers from marginalized groups, including people living with disabilities; recent migrant mothers, asylum-seekers and refugees; and mothers self-identifying as Black or First Nations.
  • Mothers with adverse life experiences are also at a higher risk of developing mental disorders, such as those living in food-insecure households or in emergency or conflict situations, and those who have experienced violence (domestic, sexual or gender-based) or natural disasters.

Download Facts and Stats: Maternal Mental Health in Canada.

This resource will continue to be updated as new research and data emerges (previous versions will be continually available on our fact sheets page).

Source information available on the PDF version of this resource.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In 2015, Canada and 192 other UN member states in the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a framework for action that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
This resource/blog is associated with the following SDGs (click on the icons to see other content from the Vanier Institute on each goal):

Published on October 7, 2019