2021 World Maternala Mental Health Day Virtual Symposium

The Ludmer Centre has partnered with the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative (CPMHC) to host an exciting event:

Strategic Approaches to Perinatal Mental Health Care in Canada. This free online symposium is open to anyone interested in the issue – clinicians, researchers, advocates, government, community organizations, and the public.

Our theme for World Maternal Mental Health Day 2021: #TimeForAction 💙💚

It’s also the title of our report which we will be making public during our live, virtual symposium on May 5th where we will also be revealing the results of our survey and recommendations to government for a national perinatal mental health strategy!




(10:30am-12pm EST)

The Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative will discuss the results of Canada’s first-ever study and survey for health care practitioners on perinatal mental health care. In Canada, an estimated 20% of women experience perinatal mental illness. Rates have been elevated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Services currently available to those experiencing perinatal mental illness in Canada are largely inadequate and issues are magnified during COVID-19. Hear why the survey findings underscore a critical need for a national perinatal mental health strategy to address gaps in screening and treatment.

(12:30-2:00pm EST)

Speakers Alain Gregoire (Global Maternal Mental Health Alliance) and Simone Vigod (Women’s College Hospital) will start the conversation about best practices in perinatal mental health care and current gaps in care for underserved communities: fathers and nonmaternal caregivers, indigenous maternal & infant health and wellbeing, and whole-family care for marginalized communities.

The symposium will take place on May 5th, 2021, World Maternal Mental Health Day and is open to clinicians, researchers, advocates, government, and members of the general public.



Advancing the Issue of Perinatal Mental Health


Jaime Charlebois is the Perinatal Mood Disorder Coordinator at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital and Regional Volunteer Coordinator for Postpartum Support International. She is also the co-founder of the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative, a group of advocates lobbying the federal government to create a perinatal mental health strategy. Ms. Charlebois holds a Master of Science in Nursing, a Perinatal Nursing Certification from the Canadian Nurses Association and a Perinatal Mental Health certification from Postpartum Support International. Her work experience includes 16 years of clinical nursing, seven years in higher education, and seven years in clinical leadership positions. She collaborates at the local, provincial, and national level with multiple organizations and committees.

Patricia Tomasi is a mom of two who struggled to find help for her perinatal mental illness. She is a former-journalist-turned-fierce-advocate who went from writing about the state of maternal mental health in Canada as a reporter for HuffPost Canada to lobbying the federal government for a national perinatal mental health strategy. She is the Co-founder and Communications Director for the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative and the Founder of the cheeky Maternal Mental Health Matters Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages with over 14,000 followers. She started a private Facebook Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Support Group in 2017 where thousands of women from around the world can support each other 24/7. Prior to her advocacy work, Patricia spent a decade providing communications and media relations expertise for the Ontario government and in addition to HuffPost Canada, she worked as a reporter for CTV and CBC news in Vancouver, Toronto, Timmins, and Thunder Bay.

Heather McPherson is Member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona. Heather has 25 years of experience in building strong communities locally, nationally, and internationally. Heather supports the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative’s efforts to create a national perinatal mental health strategy. She was the first to MP to bring forward a motion in 2021, declaring the first Wednesday in May each year as World Maternal Mental Health Day in Canada, and presented the CPMHC’s e-petition for a national strategy to the virtual House of Commons in May, 2020. Heather is fighting for real solutions for families in Edmonton Strathcona and across Canada, including universal pharmacare, affordable housing, and good pensions. She is committed to tackling the climate emergency and creating good green jobs and clean public transit.

Bhutila Karpoche is the Member of Provincial Parliament for Parkdale—High Park. In June 2018, Bhutila made history by becoming the first person of Tibetan heritage to be elected to public office in North America. On February 25, 2020, following the overwhelmingly positive response of Bhutila’s member’s statement, she tabled her sixth bill, Bill 167, Maternal Mental Health Act. The Bill proclaims the first Wednesday of May each year in Ontario as Maternal Mental Health Day. The Bill also requires the Minister of Health to conduct a comprehensive review of maternal mental health in Ontario and prepare a Provincial Framework and Action Plan on the issue. As well, the Bill requires the Minister to report to the Assembly periodically about the progress of the review and to table the Provincial Framework and Action Plan in the Assembly. An epidemiologist by training, Bhutila is a public health researcher focusing on the social determinants of health. Most recently, she co-authored the report “A public health crisis in the making: The health impacts of precarious work on racialized refugee and immigrant women.” Bhutila holds degrees from the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto and is a PhD candidate in public health policy at Ryerson University, where she received the RBC Immigrant, Diversity, and Inclusion Project Award.

Candice has always been a strong advocate for Mental Health Services and helping others find the help they need. Over the years she noticed a gap in her own health care practice. Patients were being treated for their physical pain and never having their mental health addressed. She has turned her business, Evergreen Massage Therapy in Barrie, into a space that is bridging the gap between mental and physical pains, citing that ‘how we think, translates to how we feel’. Her goal is to bring more awareness to pre/post natal mental health care. Having two daughters of her own, Candice has firsthand experience of the gaps in mental health services for women and more importantly mothers.

Lianna is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Calgary and a National Committee member of the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative. She received her B.A. in psychology from the University of British Columbia in 2006 and her Ph.D. from SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology in 2013. Lianne’s research is focused on psychological and social factors that promote or detract from optimal health trajectories. She is particularly interested in the transition to parenthood and the development of preventative interventions delivered in pregnancy that will lead to optimal parental mental health outcomes. She supports a national perinatal mental health strategy and is committed to supporting research on the dissemination and implementation of best practices for preventing and treating parental mental health and relationship distress in the transition to parenthood. Her research is supported by a CIHR Early Career Investigator in Maternal, Reproductive, Child and Youth Health Award and a Career Development Award from the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program (CCHCSP).


Advancing Standards of Care – From Global to Local


Dr. Nguyen is a reproductive psychiatrist and early-career clinician researcher in Maternal, Reproductive, Child and Youth Health based at the McGill University Health Center (MUHC). She has co-founded the Quebec Reproductive Psychiatry Network (QRPN), and is the Associate Leader for Population and Brain Health for Healthy Brains Healthy Lives (HBHL) and the designated perinatal mental health leader within the Ludmer Center for Neuroinformatics and Mental Health. 

Dr. Alain Gregoire is Founder, former Chair, and now Honorary President of the MMHA. Alain is a member of the NICE Guideline Development Group for Antenatal and Postnatal Mental Health and has contributed to the development of policy, guidance, and clinical services in the UK and abroad. He is determined to ensure that all women have access to care for their mental health which is at least as good as the care available for their physical health in pregnancy and postnatally.

Dr. Simone Vigod (MD 2003, FRCPC 2009) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, and Chief of the Department of Psychiatry at Women’s College Hospital, one of the University of Toronto’s nine fully-affiliated academic health sciences centres. Dr. Vigod is a leading expert in perinatal mood disorders and has conducted some of the largest studies worldwide on maternal mental illness around the time of pregnancy. Mental illness at this life stage poses unique risks to mothers and their children at a critical juncture in both of their lives. Her research is helping raise awareness about gaps in access to specialized perinatal mental healthcare, as well as identifying vulnerable populations where these gaps are most prominent. She also designs and evaluates novel health system interventions to improve access to and uptake of care for affected women. Her background includes an Honours BSc in Psychology from McGill University (1999), followed by an MD (2003), residency in psychiatry (2003-2009) and MSc in Clinical Epidemiology (2011) from the University of Toronto. She leads a clinical research program at Women’s College Hospital as a Senior Scientist and the Shirley A. Brown Memorial Chair in Women’s Mental Health Research in the Women’s College Research Institute, and is a Senior Adjunct Scientist at ICES in Toronto, Ontario where population-level health administrative data for her epidemiological studies are securely held. 

Dr. Angela Bowen is Professor Emeritus at the University of Saskatchewan. She is a Registered Nurse and trained midwife. Angela is the author of 50 articles, as well as MotherFirst: Maternal Mental Health Strategy in Saskatchewan, and Today’s Grandmother: Your Guide to the First Two Years. She was co-lead on the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario Best Practices for Perinatal Depression. Angela founded Maternal Mental Health Day in Saskatchewan, which is now a global event. Her research has included CIHR and other funding to develop and evaluate a Maternal Mental Health Program that she spearheaded in Saskatoon, the Maternal Mental Health Strategy in Saskatchewan, longitudinal studies of antenatal depression to 5 years postpartum, knowledge translation and policy development for maternal mental health, and Indigenous maternal wellness.

Archana is a community Psychiatrist in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with a focus on perinatal mental health and women’s health across the lifespan. She is a clinical associate professor with the Departments of Psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynecology at Memorial University. 

From London Ontario, Archana began with a passion for perinatal mental health in her Psychiatry residency training, completed at Memorial University. After having two young boys, she was able to understand the need for supports during this critical and vulnerable time period, and recognized the lack of a coordinated approach in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. She set her sights on creating a unified effort, and helped create the Perinatal Mental Health Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador. Her vision is to coordinate a provincial strategy for Perinatal Mental Health in her province and see success for generations to come. 

Raymond Villeneuve est directeur général du Regroupement pour la Valorisation de la Paternité, une organisation québécoise dont la mission est de regrouper et mobiliser les acteurs sociaux du Québec concernés par la valorisation de la paternité afin de permettre l’intégration des réalités paternelles dans les politiques publiques et l’offre de services à la famille. Il est aussi président du Regroupement des organismes pour hommes de l’Île de Montréal et président du Réseau pour un Québec Famille. Il est également l’auteur d’un livre publié aux éditions Québec Amérique : Dix pères, dix histoires, des portes ouvertes sur l’espoir qui relate le parcours de pères en difficulté ayant séjourné dans une maison d’hébergement pères-enfants.

Raymond Villeneuve is Executive Director of the Regroupement pour la Valorisation de la Paternité, a Quebec organization whose mission is to convene and mobilize Quebec stakeholders around the importance of fatherhood in order to better integrate paternal realities into policy and services. He is also president of the Regroupement des organizations pour hommes de l’Île de Montréal and president of the Network for a Quebec Family. He is also the author of a book published by Éditions Québec Amérique: Ten fathers, ten stories, open doors to hope, which chronicles the journey of fathers in difficulty who have stayed in a father-child shelter.

Millie is cofounder of The Family Care Collective and an advocate for maternal mental health in Montréal. Her work has primarily been with vulnerable populations, and she continues to work with communities to bring accessible and adequate care and resources to all. 

Lory is a psychologist who has become well-known through her books and media interventions. Specializing in maternal mental health, and particularly in attachment theory, she is also the co-founder of Ça va maman ?, a podcast that offers women a safe place to confide in the difficulties of their daily life.