A New Path to Perinatal Psychiatry Access
Perinatal mental illnesses (PMIs) affect 1 in 5 birthing people. Up to 75% of people with PMIs go untreated, despite seeing healthcare providers on multiple occasions during pregnancy and after giving birth. Individuals with untreated PMIs are more likely to struggle to maintain their own heath, have poor nutrition, be less responsive to baby’s cues, have fewer positive interactions with baby, and question their competence as parents. Infants born to individuals with untreated PMIs are at higher risk for pre-term birth, low birth weight, excessive crying, impaired interactions, and behavioral, cognitive, or emotional delays that persist into later life. The stakes for negative outcomes are high and can include hospitalization, psychosis, maternal suicide, infanticide and/or child apprehension.
Ask Masi is a new perinatal psychiatry access program intended to support you in screening, identifying, and treating your patients’ mental health concerns. “Masi”, the Hindi word for “mother’s sister”, represents a trusted source of knowledge and support. The Ask Masi service has three main components: a phone consult service, training and education opportunities, and clinical toolkit materials. Ask Masi is modeled on the highly successful Lifeline for Moms program in Massachusetts that has improved patient outcomes, led to high provider satisfaction, and has allowed the same number of perinatal psychiatrists to support a greater number of births.
Physicians and nurse practitioners can contact Ask Masi from Monday to Friday between the hours of 0900-1700. Your call will almost always be answered by a real person, but if on another call, the Ask Masi team member will return your call right away. During these hours, a perinatal psychiatrist is available to speak with you in real-time, or a specific time can be arranged. You can call, text, email, or send a notification via the Ask Masi website. Ultimately, this 10–15-minute, billable consult call with the perinatal psychiatrist is a low-barrier opportunity for you to discuss and ask questions about a particular patient’s situation. You must obtain the patient’s consent and the psychiatrist does not assume care of the patient. The service is not just about advice for prescribing – Ask Masi maintains an up-to-date database of community and virtual resources and a team member will provide you with a tailored list based on your patient’s needs. Champlain eConsult BASE continues to be available for written perinatal psychiatry advice as well.
Clinical toolkit materials, including screening tools and patient resources, are available on the Ask Masi website and more will be added in coming months. There is also the ability for you to email resources directly to patients from the website.
Lastly, Ask Masi offers several continuing medical education opportunities. Interested teams and practices can contact Ask Masi to sign up for a one-hour accredited perinatal mental health training session in 2024. These sessions are free and can be virtual or at a location of your preference. Ask Masi also hosts an annual course, the Ottawa Curriculum for Perinatal Mental Health.
For more information, please contact Aleksandra Milosevic at firstname.lastname@example.org