Ask Masi: Perinatal Mental Health Consultation Service in Eastern Ontario

Issue 6 | April 2024

Access to appropriate perinatal mental health care at the right time, in the right place and by the right provider is a challenge that many patients and families face in Ontario. In the fall of 2023, the Ottawa Hospital, Champlain Maternal Newborn Regional Program (CMNRP) and Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre launched a novel program in Ontario Health East region to address this challenge. “Ask Masi is a peer-support consultation service for healthcare providers looking after people during the pregnancy and/or postpartum periods” says Beth Tupala, Ask Masi Project Coordinator. The program was adapted from the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program (MCPAP) for Moms, a successful real-time psychiatric consultation and care coordination service for providers serving pregnant and postpartum individuals in the United States.

Ask Masi is an innovative program that advances the shared goal of identifying and addressing patients’ mental health needs by giving any healthcare provider the opportunity to speak with a perinatal mental health specialist in a quick and easy way. In addition, physicians and nurse practitioners can speak with a perinatal psychiatrist about a specific patient with real-time coaching and consultation to support screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.

Dr. Jasmine Gandhi, perinatal psychiatrist and Medical Lead for Ask Masi, shares, “Masi means ‘mother’s sister’ in Hindi, and the name of the program is meant to signify calling a trusted source for support.” By building the capacity of perinatal care providers to ask questions related to mental health and support those with mild to moderate illness, it may allow specialist services to be preserved for those with more severe and urgent mental health concerns. Gandhi reflects, “It is critically important to identify and manage perinatal mental health concerns in a timely manner, given the long-term implications for individuals, families and communities.”

PCMCH’s Care Pathway for the Management of Perinatal Mental Health is one of many resources that Ask Masi utilizes to support providers in addressing their patient’s mental health needs. PCMCH participated on Ask Masi’s Advisory Council— bringing a provincial system lens to the conversation and contributing ideas related to sustainability and potential expansion.

Brittany Groom, PCMCH Senior Program Manager, says “Perinatal care providers are extremely busy and have a lot to cover in routine visits. It’s important that mental health assessments and appropriate treatment are part of routine perinatal care.” Ask Masi is supporting providers to gain the comfort, knowledge, and ability to support patients’ mental health and ultimately improve outcomes.

Watch this short video for additional information about the Ask Masi phone service. Ask Masi and CMNRP are hosting a series of webinars for clinicians, diving into practical tips related to incorporating perinatal mental health care into routine practice. Find out more related to webinar topics, dates, and registration.


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