Manitoba Governmen News Release–The Manitoba government has awarded a tender to the Women’s Health Clinic to develop, implement and co-ordinate a provincial pregnancy and infant loss program in Manitoba, Mental Health, Wellness and Recovery Minister Audrey Gordon announced today.

“Sadly many parents will experience some sort of mental health issue related to pregnancy and infant loss, which increases the risk of worsening underlying mental health issues,” said Gordon. “Outreach and early intervention is key to ensuring better mental health and well-being for individuals and families affected by this type of loss, and this program will support women and families across the province.”

The Manitoba government is investing more than $200,000 for the development and implementation of the provincial pregnancy and infant loss program. It will provide individual and group counselling and support to assist individuals and families who are dealing with complex grief and mental health issues associated with loss of a child during pregnancy and infancy (first year of life), which can include increased risk of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorder and other mental health issues. Members of a family experiencing loss may also deal with grief in different ways, affecting their ability to support one another in a moment of crisis.

“The loss of a pregnancy and the death of an infant are often considered unspeakable or emotionally unbearable events for others to hear about at a time when those struggling with such loss desperately need a safe, supportive environment to openly contend with the mix of emotions and life change that constitute bereavement,” said Dr. Carrie Lionberg, a clinical psychologist at HSC Women’s Hospital. “Having this program available to those in need will help to address the overwhelming sadness and feelings of emptiness and isolation that are hallmarks of the grieving process, providing a pathway into adjustment to the loss.”
The Women’s Health Clinic will develop, implement and co-ordinate the program, which in addition to providing counselling and support will deliver education, training and access to the program’s services across the province. The target is to serve a minimum of 200 clients per year.

“We are pleased the government is providing us funding that helps us deliver more comprehensive supports for individuals and their families that have experienced pregnancy or infant losses,” said Blandine Tona, director, programs and partnerships, Women’s Health Clinic. “Building on our experience and resources in this area, this program will enable us to support families more broadly. Additionally, this program will create capacity around Manitoba for community-based peer supports and training for service providers.”

The minister noted the creation of the program builds on other recent investments in mental health and addictions. Since October 2019, the Manitoba government has invested more than $47.3 million in more than 27 initiatives including:
• expanding services at Klinic Community Health Centre and Laurel Centre including walk-in mental health services and specialized trauma counselling;
• investing more than $1.5 million over three years in a new initiative to provide peer and family support services in Winnipeg and the Prairie Mountain Health region, led by the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society; and
• providing $300,000 to provide education programs offered by the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba for individuals living with dementia and their families.

“We know there is a broad spectrum of services that are needed to support good mental health, and we’re committed to ensuring people have access to the care they need, when and where they need it,” said Gordon. “We look forward to the success of initiatives that we’ve already invested in, and continue to work with key stakeholders to ensure we meet the mental health-care needs of all Manitobans.”