Mental Health Of Parents Living With Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases

Defining Mental Health Resources and Intervention Approaches

The Problem

Autoimmune rheumatic diseases present different challenges including a higher risk of developing mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Becoming a parent brings additional challenges. Currently, there is limited knowledge of the factors related to mental health struggles during the transition to parenthood for people with these diseases.

The Solution

Understanding and promoting mental health in parents living with autoimmune rheumatic diseases with young children is particularly important given the adverse impacts of parental mental health problems on child development.

What the Study will do

This study will advance the limited knowledge base on the mental health of mothers and fathers living with autoimmune rheumatic diseases during the early parenting years. The findings will define the mental health resources and intervention approaches to better support the needs of persons living with these diseases during this critical life stage.

The Research Study

To address this important knowledge gap, this research will evaluate mental health during the transition to parenthood and identify related factors specific to persons living with autoimmune rheumatic diseases.

This study will include individuals with autoimmune rheumatic diseases from across Canada who have children five years and younger.  An online survey and follow-up interviews will be used to determine:

  1. Mental health outcomes
  2. The relative contribution of disease-specific, psychosocial and parenting-specific factors to the severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms;
  3. Barriers, support needs and preferences to manage mental health during this critical life stage.

Research Scientist

Dr. Deborah Da Costa

Dr. Deborah Da Costa

Research Scientist, Psychology, PhD

Dr. Deborah Da Costa is a scientist at the Research Institute, McGill University Health Centre and an associate professor in the Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. Her research focuses on the interplay between modifiable psychosocial and behavioural (e.g. exercise) factors and health status in various chronic illnesses and in relation to depression in populations at risk. This has laid the foundation for the knowledge-transfer phase of her program which focuses on tailoring and evaluating evidence-based e-health interventions to empower individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to optimize their health and wellness.

Want to support this and other life-changing arthritis research projects?