Building Emotional Awareness and Mental Health (BEAM): an open-pilot and feasibility study of a digital mental health and parenting intervention for mothers of infants

Abstract Background Maternal mental health concerns and parenting stress in the first few years following childbirth are common and pose significant risks to maternal and child well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increases in maternal depression and anxiety and has presented unique parenting stressors. Although early intervention is crucial, there are significant barriers to accessing care. Methods To inform a larger randomized controlled trial, the current open-pilot trial investigated initial evidence for the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of a newly developed online group therapy and app-based mental health and parenting program (BEAM) for mothers of infants. Forty-six mothers 18 years or older with clinically elevated depression scores, with an infant aged 6–17 months old, and who lived in Manitoba or Alberta were enrolled in the 10-week program (starting in July 2021) and completed self-report surveys. Results The majority of participants engaged in each of the program components at least once and participants indicated relatively high levels of app satisfaction, ease of use, and usefulness. However, there was a high level of attrition (46%). Paired-sample t-tests indicated significant pre- to post-intervention change in maternal depression, anxiety, and parenting stress, and in child internalizing, but not externalizing symptoms. Effect sizes were in the medium to high range, with the largest effect size observed for depressive symptoms (Cohen’s d = .93). Discussion This study shows moderate levels of feasibility and strong preliminary efficacy of the BEAM program. Limitations to program design and delivery are being addressed for testing in adequately powered follow-up trials of the BEAM program for mothers of infants. Trial registration NCT04772677 . Registered on February 26 2021.
Pilot and Feasibility Studies. 2023 Feb 18;9(1):27