Lesley A. Tarasoff is a CIHR-funded Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Health and Society at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Ontario. Her program of research aims to understand and address disparities and inequities in reproductive, perinatal, and mental health and health care experiences among often-pathologized and stigmatized populations, notably women with disabilities and sexual minority women. She holds a PhD in Public Health Sciences (Social and Behavioural Health Sciences, with a specialization in women’s health) from the University of Toronto. Twitter: @latarasoff Website: www.latarasoff.com
Anita Ewan is a 29 year-old mother of four children ages, 11, 3, 2, and 1 with one on the way. She is a social work doctoral candidate at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, ON. Her dissertation research explores the racial-gendered experiences of Black women living in Toronto social housing and the effects of housing policy and neighbourhood revitalization on their lives. She is on track to graduating in a few weeks. Anita teaches at three universities and is also an ethnographer and research consultant with the Government of Canada. She has been teaching for four years in the fields of Early Childhood Studies and Social Work, and has 10 years of experience working with children and families. She has a Master of Education in Adult Education and Community Development from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Studies from Ryerson University. In her spare time, she loves to watch Disney movies and Netflix series. She also enjoys reading posts from her favorite social medial influencers and bloggers.
Christina is the Research Manager at Canadore College and an active mom of two children: Alessandra and Anthony, and wife to Michael. She is an advocate for family wellbeing and community-based needs research. Christina graduated from McMaster University in 2016 with her PhD and went on to work in both the local hospital and then the local children’s treatment centre conducting various projects in evaluation. Her previous work encompassed looking at children and families’ well-being as they went through the diagnosis process. She has co-edited a book outlining the experiences of men and women as they experience parenting in academics. Her passion for perinatal mental health stems from her own personal experiences with postpartum anxiety. Her current research and work focus is on creating community and applied research solutions for women and men experiencing perinatal mental health issues.
Melissa Maidment is a registered Social Worker, and is a member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers. Melissa specializes in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs), currently working as the Indigenous Perinatal Mental Health Worker (IPMHW) at Chigamik Community Health Center in Midland, Ontario. Melissa provides individual and group therapy by incorporating various therapeutic modalities with the Indigenous cultural framework of the medicine wheel, working with clients in fostering a balance in their emotional, physical, mental and spiritual self. Melissa resides in Ontario with her husband Curtis, and her daughter Mackenna. Since before the birth of her daughter, Melissa started specializing in reproductive therapy, having experienced firsthand, a lengthy fertility journey. Melissa has worked in private practice settings, supporting individuals and couples undergoing reproductive procedures, and continues to offer reproductive therapy in her current role. Following Melissa’s own lived experiences with perinatal loss, Melissa added to her specialization to include bereavement therapy, supporting individuals, couples, groups, and families through their journey of perinatal loss. Melissa continues to be active in the community and is involved with the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network (PAIL). Melissa’s passion for the perinatal field has led her to train as a maternal support practitioner, a full spectrum doula supporting clients through fertility, birth and their postpartum periods. Melissa is dedicated and passionate about creating a safe and supportive space where the birthing person is provided with education to ensure informed choices/consent is respected and ensure their voices are heard. Melissa’s lived experience with infertility, perinatal losses, and PMAD has not only shaped and guided her work, but continues to be a driving force in supporting others in their journey.
Dr. Jillian Satin, a registered Clinical and Health Psychologist, is the co-founder of The Well Parents Centre in midtown Toronto (and virtually throughout Ontario). The Well Parents Centre is a private clinic consisting of psychologists and social workers with experience in perinatal mental health. Their clinicians offer therapy for individuals and couples as well as workshops of interest to new parents. Dr. Satin is passionate about supporting individuals in becoming the parents they wish to be and holds a certification in perinatal mental health from Postpartum Support International. In her practice, she focuses on mental health through preconception, infertility, loss, pregnancy, postpartum and the early parenting years. She works with mood and anxiety challenges as well as with the adjustment to parenthood, for both mothers and fathers. Before COVID, she has always offered virtual therapy and home visits for new parents who find it overwhelming to come to the office and she finds that this continues to be a great option to get parents the help they need. Dr. Satin is a mother of two young children, and considers her personal experiences with motherhood to be vital in connecting with her clients with honesty, humour, empathy, and compassion.
Dr. Samantha Waxman is a registered Clinical and Health Psychologist working with adults and couples, and is the co-founder of The Well Parents Centre in midtown Toronto (and virtually throughout Ontario). The Well Parents Centre is a private clinic consisting of psychologists and social workers focused on perinatal mental health. Their clinicians offer therapy for individuals and couples, workshops, and supervision for other professionals. Dr. Waxman completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Queen’s University. She is a CACBT-certified Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, and has also completed a specialized certificate in Perinatal Mental Health from Postpartum Support International. Dr. Waxman has also written textbook chapters on sexuality, pregnancy, and childbirth. Dr. Waxman is a mother to two young children, and her experiences with becoming a parent changed her career focus to helping other parents through the challenges of conception, pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond.
Anne TM Konkle, PhD,is a mother, a step-mother and an advocate for issues related to mental health. She is an Associate Professor in the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences and a member of the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute. Dr. Konkle earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Ottawa in 2003, specializing in sex differences in animal models of depression. Her post-doctoral fellowships allowed her to expand her work to investigate sex differences in neurodevelopment and related psychopathologies. Dr. Konkle’s original research focused on how the environment influences neurodevelopment. This was quickly re-directed to think about the mother-infant dyad; the health and particularly the mental health of the mother can impact her interactions with her newborn and thus, can play a role in offspring neurodevelopment. Dr Konkle’s research has expanded to explore how to de-stigmatize issues of mental health, in particular maternal mental health. Some of the work conducted by her research group is aimed at better understanding how maternal mental health (and in fact, parental mental health) is depicted in the media, with a particular emphasis on social media, given the media’s influence on our knowledge and perception of issues surrounding mental health.
Kiersta Hazlett is a Public Health Nurse in Ontario who has spent the last 15 years working with families, most recently in the areas of Reproductive Health and the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program. She works first hand with families who are living with perinatal mental illnesses and knows many of the barriers they face to accessing the best possible care in a timely manner. Having also experienced a perinatal mood disorder, Kiersta knows first hand how challenging it can be to take the first steps to getting help. After coming out on the other side of major postpartum depression, Kiersta discovered a passion for supporting others experiencing perinatal mood disorders, as well as a desire to effect change to our healthcare system. Her vision is to see all Canadians receiving better access to care that can save lives and improve family health, regardless of socioeconomic status or where they live. Kiersta began her career working as a medical surgical nurse on the multi organ transplant floor at SickKids in Toronto. Since then she has completed her Masters in Nursing from the University of Toronto and has gone on to receive specialized training from Postpartum Support International, the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Association, and the Parent-Child Relationship Programs from the University of Washington. When Kiersta isn’t working she enjoys spending time with her friends, partner and three kids playing board games, travelling, camping, skiing, playing volleyball, and hanging out around a good backyard bonfire.
Kathryn Thompson is a mother of two, and a Registered Psychotherapist. Her work experience began in Women’s Shelters in urban and rural settings. She returned to school to complete her studies and graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree from Queen’s University in 2019. Kathryn continues her work as a strong advocate for women who have experienced trauma and abuse in their lives. As a passionate supporter for better services to new parents she works to educate trauma survivors about perinatal mental wellness. When possible. Kathryn works to educate her professional colleagues about the increased risks and barriers for new mothers when there is current and/or past abuse in a mother’s life. Kathryn assisted in the development of the Intimate Intimate Partner Violence Checklist, a tool used to assess the harm women face when in an abusive relationship. The tool was designed and implemented in the City of Kingston and South Frontenac Township. Next steps for Kathryn include completion of her Masters in Narrative Therapy and Community Work in 2020.
Sondra’s background in family therapy and mental health work drives her passion for supporting families and individuals navigating perinatal mental health. Diagnosed with perinatal depression and anxiety after her second child Sondra understands the perils and challenges of navigating the system and the long wait lists and difficulties connected with getting support. As the Program Coordinator and Lead instructor for Doula Canada, Sondra has her finger on the pulse of perinatal health across Canada through the eyes of her students. She understands the need for a national strategy both personally and professionally. Sondra is a mama to two curious and bright little girls and 2 fur babies. She loves hiking and camping and tv with equal fervour!
Rhea Eady is the founder and owner of The Family Wellness Centre; a private practice dedicated to perinatal education and support. She is known to be a compassionate community leader, teacher and advocate for families during the perinatal period. She believes that maternal mental health begins long before the day of birth and is specifically interested in the mental, emotional and spiritual consequences of the birthing experience. Rhea’s undergraduate studies in social work at the University of Windsor focused on Indigenous birth outcomes and the disparities between populations. Within her professional career, she has worked as a Labour Doula and Childbirth Educator since 2010. She has supported hundreds of families throughout the perinatal period. Working with low and high-risk birthing populations has taught her about the strengths and limitations the current maternal health care system holds. Rhea is a mother of 3 and a survivor of a traumatic birth experience that caused postpartum anxiety. Naturally, this led to a volunteer role with Postpartum Support International. Here, she holds the position of Support Coordinator for Ottawa Ontario. This position aligns new parents with mental health supports for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
Dr. Danielle Watson is a naturopathic doctor with a focus in maternal care. Dr. Watson supports women throughout their preconception time, pregnancy and into the postpartum period. Current models of postpartum care do not support mothers in the transition to this new stage of life. Dr. Watson has made it her goal to change the dynamic in healthcare so that it is supportive of new mothers during their matrescence. Dr. Watson teaches other clinicians in her course ‘Prepared Postpartum’, to forward this goal. Dr. Watson completed her Doctor of Naturopathy Degree from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Prior to that, she completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University. She is registered to practice by the College of Naturopaths of Ontario & is a member of both the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors & the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors.
Dr. Sachiko Nagasawa is a clinical psychologist that specializes in perinatal and maternal mental health. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and worked with the Developmental Theory of Embodiment Centre to understanding the interactions between the social environment of diverse girls and women and their embodied experiences. As a result of this work, she has published book chapters and spoken at conferences across North America and internationally. Drawing on over 14 years of clinical experience which includes a specialization in perinatal and postpartum mood difficulties, development of an outpatient perinatal mood and anxiety group, research in the area of women’s mental health, and being a mother, she understands the urgent need for a national perinatal mental health strategy. Dr. Nagasawa is excited to be part of CPMHC to continue her advocacy work. (twitter @DrNagasawa, website www.baypsychology.ca)
Gabriella Carafa MSW RSW PMH-C is a social worker who is certified in perinatal mental health. Gabriella also has a certificate in rehabilitation services. She has over seven years combined experience working with individuals with disabilities and complex medical conditions as well as supporting individuals in the perinatal period. Gabriella works as a perinatal social worker in acute care settings and as a transition strategy team lead in paediatric rehabilitation. Gabriella also has a private practice working with children, adolescents, adults, families and couples in her private practice. She has a special interest in parenthood for individuals with disabilities including physical, intellectual, learning and/or episodic disabilities and has her own lived experience of disability. Gabriella is passionate about sharing knowledge and experience by providing content interviews, professional workshops, creating invited blog content, and leading healthcare and social services training opportunities. Gabriella brings a diverse, unique, passionate and vibrant voice to the realities and intersections of mental health, ability & the perinatal experience.