Women's College Hospital - Health Care for Women, Revolutionized

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Reproductive Life Stages Program (RLS)

This specialized program in the Department of Psychiatry at Women's College Hospital provides assessment and short-term treatment for women experiencing new or recurrent mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, mania and psychosis during the reproductive life stages (such as menstrual cycle, pregnancy, postpartum and the menopausal transition).

The program offers a combination of education, brief psychotherapy and medication, along with a multidisciplinary team approach, to assess and treat women, their partners and families. Examples of conditions for we provide assessment and care are:

  • mood and anxiety difficulties linked to pre-menstrual syndrome, depression and anxiety while planning or during a pregnancy;
  • postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosis; and
  • peri-menopausal mental health issues.

As well, the program has two child psychiatrists on staff who provide care to children of mothers with mental health issues, and one addiction psychiatrist on staff who provides consultation to our program for women who have addictions in addition to their mental health difficulties.

The program is also committed to educating healthcare providers and for conducting research to further understand mental health as it relates to women at each reproductive life stage.

The program’s interdisciplinary team of psychiatrists, mental health social workers and nurses offer the following services:

  • Psychiatric assessment and recommendations
  • Psychotherapy (individual and group) and medication follow-up
  • Parenting support
  • Online mental health services
  • Child psychiatry
  • Addictions consultation

Intake telephone pre-assessment

Prior to your visit, your physician or midwife will request a consultation from us by faxing us a referral form. We will call you to schedule a telephone pre-assessment with the RLS nurse that will happen prior to your visit with the doctor. If you wish to schedule your pre-assessment before we call you or you have not heard from us within 2-3 days of your referral please call our program at 416-323-6230 to schedule your telephone intake.

The RLS nurse will ask you some questions about the reason for your referral, and any other information that will help us inform your assessment visit with the RLS psychiatrist. Depending on the reason for your referral, you may be asked to complete a short questionnaire over the phone so that we can better understand what symptoms you are having, and how severe these are. After your intake telephone call, your visit with the RLS psychiatrist will be booked.


What to expect at your first visit

When you arrive on the 7th floor, please proceed to check in at the information desk where you will be asked to fill out some important forms, including your current medications, and whether you would be willing to participate in research studies in our program if you are eligible. Please arrive 15 minutes early for your scheduled appointment to complete these forms.

Your first visit to our program will be with one of the RLS program psychiatrists who will help determine a treatment plan to meet your needs. Women who are pregnant or postpartum may be referred for additional services in the RLS program, including psychological therapy with a mental health therapist.

You are welcome to bring any children under age 1 in for your appointment. On-site child care is available and should be booked in advance(see Stella's Playroom).


Wait times

The time between referral and first appointment is determined by your intake telephone pre-assessment. At the present time, we are offering appointments for most referred patients within 2 weeks of the intake appointment.


Booking an appointment

A referral by a doctor or midwife is required. Referred women can call the intake line to arrange a telephone pre-assessment with a nurse pending referral by their health-care practitioner.

Physicians and clinicians

Download and complete the patient referral form from the Forms section below. Once completed, please fax to 416-323-6356.


Rapid consultation

A rapid consultation service is available for pregnant or preconception patients who require timely recommendations regarding treatment of depression in pregnancy. Every effort is made to provide a consultation appointment within 3–5 business days.

Psychiatrists

  • Dr. Simone Vigod, MD, MSc, FRCPC
  • Dr. Diane de Camps Meschino, BSc(H) MD FRCPC
  • Dr. Alicja Fishell, BSc, MD, FRCPC
  • Dr. Renu Gupta, MD, FRCPC
  • Dr. Lori Wasserman, MD, FRCPC
  • Dr. Aliza Israel, MD, FRCPC
  • Dr. Cintia Padoin, MD, FRCPC
  • Dr. Inbal Gafni, MSc MD FRCPC Dip. ABAM

Mental Health Therapists

  • Greer Slyfield Cook, MSW, RSW
  • Kaeli Macdonald, BFA, MSW, RSW
  • Lindsay Witton MSW, RSW

Fellows

  • Dr. Inbal Shlomi, MD

Intake & Triage

  • Elaine Barrons, RN

At any given time our team also includes social work and medical students, post-graduate medical trainees in psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, and family medicine, as well as clinical fellows from Canada and around the world.

The RLS program at Women’s College Hospital is actively involved in a variety of research initiatives at our institution and through partnerships with other hospitals. We aim to conduct research that improves the health of women with mental health issues and their families across the reproductive life cycle, including across the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, postpartum and in the menopausal transition.

Current Studies Recruiting Participants

We have several clinical research studies underway that are actively recruiting participants:

  • An Electronic Patient Decision Aid for Antidepressant Use in Pregnancy

    Study funded by: The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR)
    Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Simone Vigod
    Deciding to start or continue an antidepressant medication during pregnancy can be a difficult and complex decision. If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, deciding whether you should start or continue an antidepressant medication for the treatment of depression, and are conflicted about what to do, you may be eligible to participate in a study examining whether or not an interactive website is a helpful tool for women who are making this decision.

    For more information: email the study coordinator, Neesha Hussain-Shamsy
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) for Depression During Pregnancy

    Study funded by: SickKids Foundation and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR)
    Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Simone Vigod and Dr. Daniel Blumberger
    To prevent poor child outcomes, treatment of maternal depression in pregnancy is essential. However, for women who prefer not to use antidepressant medication to treat their depression, treatment options are limited. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a focal form of neurostimulation to treat depression that may offer pregnant women an effective treatment option for their depression without exposing the fetus to the effects of medication. If you are pregnant, currently experiencing depression, and have declined to use antidepressant medication treatment, you may be eligible to participate in our study on this non-medicinal treatment option.

    Read about the study in TRIALS | View our feature story on CTV
    For more information: email the study coordinator, Neesha Hussain-Shamsy
  • Postpartum group for COUPLES

    Study funded by: Department of Psychiatry Excellence Fund
    Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Simone Vigod and Dr. Andrew Howlett
    Have you recently had a baby and are you or your partner feeling depressed? A research study to develop a therapy group for couples is being offered at Women’s College Hospital which may help you. You may be eligible to participate if you and/or your partner are currently feeling depressed, you have a baby who is less than 12 months old, and are living together with your partner.
  • POCS-R study

    Site Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Simone Vigod, in collaboration with McMaster University and University of British Columbia
    We are currently running a study to validate the revised version of the Perinatal Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (POCS-R) in women. Participating in this study involves one study visit to consent to the study and complete questionnaires (approx. 30 minutes). This study visit can be before the patient’s clinic visit.
  • Using virtual care to reduce barriers to mental health care in postpartum women and full-time workers

    Study funded by: MOHLTC AFP Innovation Fund
    Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Jennifer Hensel
    We are currently recruiting for a study where women ican take advantage of personal computer videoconferencing as part of the therapy offered in the RLS program.

Other Ongoing Research Studies

In addition to the clinical research studies described above, our staff are engaged in high-quality research activities of relevance to women during their reproductive life cycle. Some examples:

  • Immigration and Postpartum Mental Health

    Principal Investigators: Dr. Simone Vigod and Dr. Cindy Lee Dennis
  • Women Requiring Postpartum Psychiatric Hospital Admission

    Principal Investigator: Dr. Simone Vigod (Fellowship: Dr. Inbal Shlomi)
  • Pregnancy and Infant Outcomes for Women with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

    Post-Doctoral Fellowship: Dr. Hilary Brown

There are many resources available for both patients and their healthcare providers. The following are leading websites that will provide the answers to many of the questions you may have about mental health during reproductive life stages:

Patient Handouts

Women's Health Matters
Womenshealthmatters.ca provides trusted news, features and research findings on women’s health, as well as Health Centres offering in-depth information on women’s health topics.


The Trauma & Mental Health Report 
The Trauma & Mental Health Report is a weekly online mental-health magazine published out of York University in Toronto. The Trauma & Mental Health Report sat down with Psychiatrist, Dr. Diane Meschino, to talk about Postpartum depression (PPD).

  • Watch the video: What is Postpartum Depression?
    In the first video of the series she discusses the depression and anxiety components of the mental illness.

 

Forms

Please fax your referral to the Reproductive Life Stages Program at Women’s College Hospital at 416-323-6356.

Program - Patient Referral

Mother Matters: Online Support Group - Self Referral

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Location & Contact Information

Reproductive Life Stages Program
Women's College Hospital
76 Grenville Street
7th floor
Toronto, ON M5S 1B2

Phone: 416-323-6230 NEW #

Intake line: 416-323-7715

Fax: 416-323-6356

Hours of Service
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Accessibility
The hospital is fully accessible. All clinics have wheelchair accessible washrooms.


Referrals
A physician or midwife's referral is required. Access forms »

! Rapid consultation
Available upon request. See the Your Care tab or referral form for more information.


Amenities for Parents
The following washrooms on the 7th floor are equipped with change tables:

  • Room 7208 - inside main clinic doors
  • Room 7302 - north of main elevators

We offer a designated breast feeding area across from Room 7232.

Stella's Playroom
A supervised short-stay "play zone" for children is available to families tending to healthcare appointments at the hospital. Stella's Playroom is a free service that can be booked provided space is available. To learn more or request scheduled care during an appointment time call 416-323-6400 ext. 4085.


Are you a new mom adjusting to having a baby? Consider joining our online support group.

Mother Matters

Learn more about our online support group for new moms.

Our Publications


  • Fully affiliated with:
  • University of Toronto
  • A member of:
  • Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO)