[41] Bill 176 Original (PDF)

Bill 176 2016

An Act to proclaim Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day


Maternal mental illnesses affect a significant percentage of women at some point in their lifetimes. Women of every culture and income level can develop mood and anxiety disorders during and around pregnancy. Because women play a vital role in supporting the healthy development of children and building strong communities, maternal mental illnesses can affect more than women's own health. Maternal mental illnesses can have significant adverse effects on children, families and communities.

Symptoms of maternal mental illnesses can begin during pregnancy, or in the first year following birth. The partners and families of women suffering from these illnesses are also at increased risk of developing depression and anxiety themselves. If untreated, the babies of women suffering from maternal mental illnesses are at higher risk for social and behavioural problems including antisocial behaviours, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), insecure attachment, decreased Intelligence Quotient (IQ), and language delays.

Up to 85 per cent of women with maternal mental illnesses go untreated for many reasons. Some do not want to seek help because they think the only treatment is medication, and they worry about the safety of medication for their fetus or breastfeeding baby. Many do not know that they are suffering from maternal mental illnesses, and so they do not seek help and therefore do not get diagnosed or receive treatment. Many experience stigma that prevents them from seeking the help they need.

These illnesses are treatable and their impacts can be reduced if Ontarians are made aware of how common maternal mental illnesses are and how much of an impact they can have. It is important to heighten the awareness of maternal mental illnesses and their impact on overall maternal and children's health in order to increase diagnosis and treatment of these illnesses and to ensure that women have access to the support they require in their times of need.

Proclaiming the first Wednesday in May of each year as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day provides a dedicated occasion in Ontario to highlight the importance of maternal mental health and to share best practices, research, and information, which are essential for providing positive outcomes for affected women.

Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day

   1.  The first Wednesday of May in each year is proclaimed as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day.


   2.  This Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.

Short title

   3.  The short title of this Act is the Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day Act, 2016.



The Bill proclaims the first Wednesday of May in each year as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day.