British Columbia

Liisa Galea, BC

Liisa Galea is a Professor at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and Director of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia, and Scientific Advisor at Women’s Health Research Institute. Her research goal is to improve brain health for women and men by examining the influence of sex and sex hormones on depression and Alzheimer’s disease. She was the first researcher world-wide to develop preclinical models of postpartum depression and was one of the first to study the long-term effects of motherhood on the brain. Dr. Galea (Ph.D. in Neuroscience, Western University) was a postdoctoral fellow at the Rockefeller University. Dr. Galea, a Distinguished University Scholar, has won numerous awards including NSERC-Discovery Accelerator, Michael Smith Senior Scholar, Vancouver YWCA Women of Distinction and is a Fellow (IBNS). She has >150 papers and is in the top 1% of cited researchers worldwide, is the editor-in-chief of FiN (IF: 7.852), serves/served on the editorial boards (eNeuro, Endocrinology, Hormones and Behavior, Neuroscience), peer review panels (NIH, CIHR, NSERC, Wellcome Trust) and advisory boards (IGH-CIHR). She is president-elect for the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences.

Michelle Carter, BC

Michelle Carter is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Psychiatry at St. Paul’s Hospital, an Adjunct Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia, and a mother of two.  She aims to strengthen perinatal mental health (PMH) services to support the complex and evolving needs of Canadian women and families. Her focus is on the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based psychiatric care practices. In an effort to impact system-wide changes, she is often involved in the creation of interdisciplinary guidelines, care processes, clinical tools, and evaluation frameworks.  Michelle recently partnered with a group of researchers, clinicians, and individuals with lived experience in hopes of developing an evidence-based, user-informed model of care to advance integrated PMH care delivery in BC and beyond.

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Alexandra Lihou Gibson, BC

Alexandra Lihou Gibson is absolutely thrilled to be a committee member for the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative. Alexandra is a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC), Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC), a Perinatal Mental Health Certified Provider, and a Compassionate Bereavement Care Certified Provider. She is located in Vancouver, BC and is employed by the Fraser Health Authority in the Reproductive Mental Health Program, and at Holding Space Counselling and Psychotherapy. The focus of Alexandra’s counselling work is with individuals who struggle with mental health concerns that arise or become worsened in pregnancy and the postpartum period, as well as during times of infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy interruption, birth loss, traumatic birth and the transition to parenthood. Alexandra also spends her time advocating for her clients through creating and implementing programming strategies needed to further support the perinatal population.

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Alana Oikonen, BC

Hello Canada! My name is Alana Oikonen, and I am a mother of two wonderful, intelligent, and fun girls, ages five and almost three.  I live in Prince George, British Columbia where I enjoy easy access to the great outdoors, which I love to explore through hiking.  Professionally, I am an Occupational Therapist and have worked in mental health my entire career, in both community and residential settings. I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety with both my children. With my first daughter, my symptoms became disruptive about four months after her birth and asking for help was very difficult and took months.  With my second, the depression and anxiety began during pregnancy and continued through her infancy and then reared its head again while we were weaning. As someone who works in mental health care, I thought I was educated and aware of what postpartum depression could be – I was wrong.  Anyone can experience perinatal health issues.  After my personal experience with perinatal mental health issues, I have shared my experience with others and become an advocate for better services for women and their families. I am excited to be a part of the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative and proud to be one of many women raising their voices to say: “You are not alone”.

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Dr. Nichole Fairbrother, BC

Dr. Nichole Fairbrother is a Clinical Associate Professor with the UBC Department of Psychiatry and the Island Medical Program. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of British Columbia in 2002, and subsequently completed a post-doctoral fellowship in women’s reproductive health through the Child and Family Research Institute and the UBC Department of Health Care and Epidemiology. Dr. Fairbrother’s research is in the area of perinatal anxiety disorders and epidemiology, with a focus on new mothers’ thoughts of infant-related harm and perinatal obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Current research activities include a large-scale study of maternal thoughts of infant-related harm and their relation to postpartum OCD and child harm, and several inter-connected studies of fear of childbirth. She is currently in the planning stages for a study of perinatal anxiety disorder screening and two randomized controlled trials of online CBT for fear of childbirth, and postpartum OCD. Dr. Nichole Fairbrother is a Clinical Associate Professor with the UBC Department of Psychiatry and the Island Medical Program. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of British Columbia in 2002, and subsequently completed a post-doctoral fellowship in women’s reproductive health through the Child and Family Research Institute and the UBC Department of Health Care and Epidemiology. Dr. Fairbrother’s research is in the area of perinatal anxiety disorders and epidemiology, with a focus on new mothers’ thoughts of infant-related harm and perinatal obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Current research activities include a large-scale study of maternal thoughts of infant-related harm and their relation to postpartum OCD and child harm, and several inter-connected studies of fear of childbirth. She is currently in the planning stages for a study of perinatal anxiety disorder screening and two randomized controlled trials of online CBT for fear of childbirth, and postpartum OCD.

Christine Ou, BC

Christine Ou is a registered nurse, nursing instructor at Langara College, and a doctoral candidate and Public Scholar at the University of British Columbia. For her dissertation research she is examining the relationships between postpartum maternal sleep quality and levels of anger and depression. As a UBC Public Scholar, Christine is also partnering with Pacific Post Partum Support Society on projects related to supporting parents to get enough sleep and also supporting mothers in their second postpartum year. https://www.grad.ubc.ca/campus-community/meet-our-students/ou-christine

Phillipa Houghton, BC

Dr. Phillippa Houghton is a new-to-practice family doctor and mother to two young boys. She developed an interest in perinatal mental health after a close friend struggled with postpartum depression. Through supporting her friend she became aware that not only is there a lack of access to resources for women struggling with these disorders; many family doctors are also lacking resources to best recognize, diagnose and support these patients. She decided to pursue additional training through Postpartum Support International and is passionate about sharing her knowledge to reduce stigma around perinatal mental health; as well as to enhance education and resources at the primary care level. She can be found on social media at @makingmamawell.