Here are the women who came together from across Canada to form the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative.
Angela Bowen is a Registered Nurse, trained Midwife, and Professor of Nursing and Psychiatry at the University of Saskatchewan. She has extensive clinical, educator, and administrator experience in Maternity and Mental Health Care. Her research focus, Maternal Mental Health, brings these areas of expertise together. Angela received a Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation New Investigator Award to evaluate the Maternal Mental Health Program that she spearheaded. She has held Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funding for a longitudinal study of mother-child dyads from early pregnancy to age five. Angela facilitates the MotherFirst Maternal Mental Health Strategy in Saskatchewan and a knowledge translation project to increase awareness of maternal mental health also funded by CIHR.
Jaime Charlebois is the Regional Perinatal Mood Disorder Coordinator throughout North Simcoe Muskoka, working out of Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. She is also a Regional Volunteer Coordinator for Postpartum Support International. She holds a Master of Science in Nursing and a Perinatal Nursing Certification from the Canadian Nurses Association. Jaime’s work experience includes 18 years of clinical nursing, 7 years of teaching and simulation, and 5 years in clinical leadership positions. She has collaborated at the local, provincial, and national level with multiple organizations and committees. Jaime suffered from untreated postpartum depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder 13 years ago. In her current position she uses her lived experience to advocate for equitable services and provides education/training to local health care and social service providers who support families suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
Elita Paterson co-chairs the MotherFirst: Maternal Mental Health Strategy in Saskatchewan with Dr. Angela Bowen, and serves as the Public Representative for Saskatchewan women and families as a woman with lived experience. Elita suffered from postpartum anxiety and anger for nearly two years as she was not properly diagnosed. She found healing through writing her story with Carla O’Reilly and Tania Bird in “The Smiling Mask: Truths about Postpartum Depression and Parenthood.” When not advocating, Elita is an Executive Assistant to the Associate VP of International at the University of Regina, a wife to a generous man who makes her volunteerism possible, and a mom to a resilient, curious and healthy 12 year old daughter.
Over the past 10 years, Sara Beckel has been working as a labour doula and has attended close to 100 births in the Queen City. After the birth of her second daughter, Sara experienced postpartum depression and it has since fueled her passion to improve maternal wellness for new mothers, creating easier access to treatment and support. Even as a labour doula, she was unaware of the true depth of the illness and how it can impact the entire family unit until she walked down the path herself. That dark time was excruciating yet powerful all rolled in too. Her battle with postpartum depression has given her the lived experience she needs to truly understand what women are going through and work towards ensuring mothers no longer suffer in silence like she did. Sara is also an active maternal mental health advocate throughout Saskatchewan and across the country and uses her lived experience with postpartum mood and anxiety disorders to continue raising awareness and reduce the stigma that surrounds the illness.
Patricia Tomasi is a journalist and mom of two who decided to focus on perinatal mental health after suffering from prenatal and postpartum depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder – twice. She writes for HuffPost Canada as well as other publications about the state of perinatal mental health in Canada. Patricia is working on a memoir and narrative history of perinatal mental health. If you would like to share your story, please contact Patricia at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Shannon Hennig is the Program Director of the Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative and as worked in public healthcare and in the non-profit sector in Alberta, Canada. She has lived experience with maternal mental illness and has worked extensively as an independent researcher, advocate and patient consultant. Her experience includes communication and social media planning, and project and health system management. She holds a Master of Arts in Integrated Studies and is a Visiting Academic Scholar at Brandeis University, where she is currently working on a project related to opioid use and maternal mental illness.