Let me introduce myself!
Hello, I’m Dawn Kingston. I am an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at University of Calgary (Calgary, Alberta) and in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Alberta). Along with my vibrant team, I research innovative ways to identify and treat mental health problems in pregnant women so that women and their families can get evidence-based help when they need it, wherever they are. Often, help is not available when people need it. Our team’s passion is helping women and their families at their time of need.
We are also keenly interested in health prevention – especially emotional health prevention. Emotional well-being is truly the foundation of health. Emotional distress, such as stress, affects all aspects of our lives – our relationships, productivity, work, and life satisfaction. Our team helps people to understand how they can protect their emotional well-being so that they can be at their best at home and at work.
My Research: Improving Life for Pregnant Women and their Families
I’ve been doing research on prenatal mental health and its effect on mothers and children for the past 5 years. I became seriously interested in women’s mental health during pregnancy when I was a nurse caring for sick infants in a neonatal intensive care unit. For the most part, the medical field had always focused on physical pregnancy complications and how they affected the baby’s health. But, at that time, some new research was linking prenatal stress, anxiety and depression to preterm birth and other health problems in children whose mothers suffered with prenatal anxiety or depression. A decade later, we now know that mental health problems are among the most common complications of pregnancy.
Our team researches new ways to deliver routine prenatal mental healthcare so that every woman can receive mental healthcare when they are pregnant. We develop and test online screening tools and therapies that are effective in reducing prenatal anxiety, depression and stress and preventing postpartum depression. We want women to have access to excellent mental healthcare anytime, wherever they are. We’ve published our research widely in leading medical journals and have shared our work at national and international conferences. I’m also an active advocate for women and to that end I do invited media interviews (e.g., CTV News, Global News) and public talks.
Building Leaders: The Essential Academic
I am passionate about building leaders. The field of perinatal mental health is quite new, and there is a need for visionary leaders who can interface with researchers, policy-makers and clinicians. The Essential Academic section of the blog will address topics that help academics to be successful leaders.
I am an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada). I began my academic career at the University of Alberta in 2012 after a 2-year Postdoctoral Fellowship. In January 2016 I moved to the University of Calgary to take a Professorship and then a leadership role as Alberta’s first cross-provincial research chair in perinatal mental health (The Lois Hole Hospital for Women Cross-Provincial Chair in Perinatal Mental Health). In this position, I work with clinicians, policy-makers and decision-makers, and other researchers to advance the goal of equitable, accessible, evidence-based mental healthcare for all pregnant women and mothers.
I completed a Masters and PhD at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) and a Post-doctoral Fellowship at the University of Manitoba. I have received over 4 million dollars in national and provincial grant funding to conduct studies that evaluate e-technology approaches to mental health screening and treatment in pregnant women, understand what keeps women from engaging in mental health screening, and determine the rates and mental health needs of men and women undergoing infertility treatment.
Our research also explores the effects of poor prenatal mental health on children’s mental and physical health and development in order to intervene early to prevent sub-optimal child outcomes. Our most recent grant will use our large pregnancy birth cohort of over 3300 families to study how to identify resilient children, considering social, genetic, epigenetic and biological factors, and to understand the effect of early, adverse life circumstances on child resilience.
I love writing, and am currently working on a book entitled, The Pregnancy Brain: Debunking the Myths of Emotional Health in Pregnancy.
I’ve been married to my husband, Rob, for over 30 years and we have two grown sons. Family is very important to us. So is good mental health. So it’s not surprising that my research is founded on these values.
In my spare time, I love to write and read. I’ve recently learned how to swim (and snorkel!) and am enjoying getting better in the water! I’m also new to spin-cycling, and am enjoying its challenges. I love dogs (always have!) and my husband and I enjoy hiking adventures in the Rockies, which are about an hour’s drive from our home in Calgary. I love the mountains. They are a real source of joy and peace for me. I also enjoy music – mainly jazz and classical – and am a wanna-be violinist. I’ve also recently embarked upon a professional coach certification because I wanted to improve my own leadership abilities and I want to support others’ professional development the best I can.
This blog is the starting place for most of my writing for women, their families, and healthcare professionals. You can also find me on social media:
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