Here are the CPMHC’s team of Social Media Ambassadors with amazing skills to help us all achieve a national perinatal mental health strategy!
Tanya Hayles is an award-winning event planner and creative storyteller, using various mediums to evoke emotions, create change and magnify moments. She spends most of her days turning ideas into reality through rsvp + co. where event planning is not just what she does, it’s who she is. Tanya believes in the power and art of storytelling through the pen as a freelance writer, or through spoken word as a public speaker. By night, she is the founder of Black Moms Connection, an online global village of 15,000 and non-profit providing culturally relevant programs and resources to educate and empower the Black mother and her family.
Candice Thomas has studied the human body for well over a decade. She completed her Bachelor of Applied Health Science degree in 2009, becoming a Certified Athletic Therapist working and travelling with some of Canada’s National level athletes. She went on to become a Registered Massage Therapist in 2013 and started her own business in 2014. Through her personal journey with mental health, 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 healthcare 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. Change is coming. You are not alone.
Heather Marcoux is a journalist and mother based in Alberta. Now the News Editor for Motherly, she previously worked in television newsrooms throughout the Prairies. She’s produced and reported for Global, CityTV and CTV, and co-anchored CTV Morning Live Saskatoon before returning home to Alberta in 2014 to start her family. In 2015 she gave birth and experienced the lack of support and systemic barriers Canadian mothers face when seeking help for perinatal mental health challenges. Since 2017 Heather has reported extensively on maternal health, perinatal mood disorders and gender inequality. Her work is read by millions and she is proud to be among those declaring 2020 the #yearofthemother, demanding better maternal mental health support for mothers everywhere. Heather believes Canadian families deserve a national strategy for perinatal mental health because untreated perinatal mental health issues are costing families and the Canadian economy far too much.
Leigh Mitchell is a gender equality advocate, marketer and brand strategist who loves branding your brilliance. She often works with professional and entrepreneurial women, HR departments and national corporations who want clear, creative and story-based marketing and branding strategy. As the founder of Women in Biz Network, Leigh has taken her business from a handful of women to an organization of over 35,000. She curates mentorship initiatives, promotes our diversity-driven career portal, and delivers skill-building events to a variety of audiences. Throughout her career, Leigh has worked with brands such as Microsoft Canada, TELUS, TD Canada Trust, Staples Canada and Chevrolet Canada. Leigh has been featured in the CBC News, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Canadian Living, Wall Street Journal and a speaker at numerous industry events. Leigh is a part-time runner and once walked on the top of the CN Tower. She is married with two sons and lives in Toronto, Canada. She is passionate about mental health advocacy, exploring the arts, reading, spending time in nature and practicing yoga. Leigh volunteers with a number of causes including Scouts Canada, Active for Life, and Kingsway Platform Tennis Junior Program. Leigh has held various board positions and helps to support charities/causes such as HerVolution, Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative and UGO Travel for Change.
Ashleigh Clarke is an RN, mom of two and business owner in Barrie, Ontario who experienced a debilitating perinatal mood disorder after the birth of her daughter four years ago. The struggle she experienced and lack of early intervention and support has led her to passionately advocate for maternal mental health awareness. Ashleigh is working towards achieving her PMH-C certification in early 2021 and plans to expand her work to support local women & families. Follow her personal (@ashleighmaeclarke) & professional (@maternalmentalhealthnurse) pages for more.
Nicolle Nattrass is a Jessie Award nominated actress (CAEA/ACTRA), playwright (PGC), counselor CAC II and instructor for Creative Journaling for Self-Care. Nicolle began keeping a journal of her experience as a new mother and those notes became an autobiographical 90-minute one-woman play that she performed in theatres since 2016. Her play, Mamahood: Bursting into Light is a witty and profoundly moving ode to motherhood. Nattrass delves into the humor of being an “older parent”, the choices of first time moms, the pain of sleep deprivation and the heartache associated with postpartum depression and opens the audience to the inner world of PTSD in relation to childbirth. She courageously shares her own journey, exploring the debilitating anxiety, shame, and intrusive thoughts that can plague a new parent and cast a shadow on the joy of this life-changing experience. She is incredibly grateful to have been so supported by organizations (staff and counselors) at Pacific Post Partum Support Society in Vancouver, BC. She has also adapted her play into a Keynote: Mamahood: A New Frontier to become a stronger advocate for maternal mental health and the need for more training for helping professionals. In Feb. 2020, Nicolle is pleased to be sharing her Keynote as the lunchtime Presenter at the Perinatal Services BC’s 4th Biennial Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Conference in Vancouver, BC. For her professional credits and info, visit www.nicollenattrass.com
My name is Amanda Gurman. I am 32 years old and I live in Hamilton, Ontario. I am a full time working mom of 2 children. I have a daughter who is 2 and a son who is 4. I am very passionate about mental health as it is something I have always struggled with. I have lived experience with postpartum depression and postpartum rage. I have started a podcast called Honest as a mother. This has been my platform to share my experiences as a mom and to be real about them. I want to have the tough conversations with other moms and let them know that we all feel the same way at some point and that their feelings are normal and okay. I am very passionate about normalizing mental health when it comes to being a parent.
Geneviève Desrochers is a postpartum doula and mom of two children who lives in Brampton, Ontario. In 2009, one month after the birth of her first child, she was admitted to hospital and received the diagnosis of bipolar disorder of postpartum onset with psychotic features. Since then, she made it her mission to learn more about postpartum mental health in order to inform future and new parents and to offer them support if they are going through a challenging postpartum period. In 2018, she decided to follow her passion full time and left her 19-year career in education as a teacher and consultant to start her business as a certified postpartum doula. She self-published a memoir in French and English (Another Reality: the Story of my Postpartum Bipolar Disorder) about her postpartum experience and started a bilingual YouTube channel to share her story, information about postpartum mental health and testimonials of other parents who experienced a postpartum mood and/or anxiety disorder. She is also offering in-person and online workshops to parents on postpartum mental health. Besides her YouTube channel, you can find her on her website www.transitionpostpartum.com, Facebook page and Instagram.
My parenting journey inspired me to do something to help other parents. I completed my MA on methods of increasing father involvement at the transition to parenting, sending text messages to fathers with ways they can support their infants, their partners and themselves. Currently I am working at Brock University in an administrative role, and as an instructor for nursing students on how to be better health educators. I volunteer with Life with a Baby, organizing events for parents of kids 0-6 to increase their social network, and to get information from community partners such as workshops on First Aid, mental health and sleep. During my MA, I was able to take many learning opportunities around knowledge mobilization – from lessons on social media, to courses on Organizational Behaviour and Knowledge Mobilization. In my free time, I like watching TV – including reruns of Friends or Paw Patrol.
Amanda is the mother of a vivacious one-year-old and owner of Momma Blues & Beyond. She offers therapeutic photography and peer support to those on their pregnancy and parenthood journey. She has lived experience with pregnancy and postpartum depression and anxiety, and was inspired to offer these services as a result of her experience. She speaks openly on social media platforms about the realities of parenting and her journey through postpartum depression and anxiety as a way to remind us that we’re not alone. Her goal is to address the stigma attached to perinatal mental health illness through education, solidarity and by highlighting the importance of proper perinatal mental health care. She’s set to graduate from an Honours Bachelor of Social Work degree in the spring and plans to register with the Ontario Colleges of Social Workers and Social Services Workers (OCSWSSW). One thing Amanda truly believes in is the power of creative expression and sharing our truth as a path to wellness.
My name is Krystin Buffam, and I am currently the mother of 2 wonderful children. I have a Bachelors Degree in Nursing, and worked roughly 9 years before recently taking some time away from my career to focus on my two kids. Irecently had the privilege to work with the Calgary Health Trust to promote the Shopper’s Drug Mart Run for Women in Calgary and across Canada. I was able to share my storythrough radio and TV interviews to help bring awareness to postpartum mood disorders, and how important funding programs like the Women’s Mental Health Clinic here in Calgary are. I suffered severe postpartum anxiety and depression immediately following the birth of my son 4.5 years ago, and it was the start of my journey with the Women’s Mental Health Clinic and my own personal self-discovery. During these years I also had my daughter, in January 2019, and once again suffered from postpartum anxiety and also postpartum OCD after her birth. Through the support of my amazing husband, extended family, my parents, the Women’s Mental Health clinic, and multiple organizations and resources, I am now so proud to be able to be a voice for women’s mental health. I am a volunteer peer supporter in Calgary for women with postpartum mood disorders, as well as a vocal supporter of mental health within my circle of friends and family, and on my social media platforms. I strongly believe that Canada needs a national perinatal mental health strategy, as we know that a cohesive and comprehensive plan has shown great results in other countries. Things such as proper screening tools during pregnancy and in the postpartum period need to be developed nationally, and by raising awareness to this issue through social media, I hope that we can garner the support needed to make this happen!
Nicole Weston is a Self-Love Coach, trained social worker and Master Practitioner in NLP & QCP™. Nicole has been working with families for over eight years. At a cellular level, Nicole can release negative emotions and limiting beliefs so that mothers can be present, empowered and confident. She believes in redefining motherhood, letting go of generational cycles, the pressures to be perfect and the expectations to do it all. Nicole believes in redefining motherhood through conscious mothering of self first through meeting mothers where they are at and guiding them to love themselves first.
Aline est maintenant retraitée après avoir travaillé pendant 34 ans au sein du personnel administratif d’universités québécoises. En 2015 elle a découvert par hasard que la phobie spécifique qui l’avait affligée depuis le jeune âge avait un nom : la tocophobie primaire (peur de la grossesse et de l’accouchement) – et que cet état pathologique fait l’objet de recherches depuis plus d’une vingtaine d’années. Depuis lors, elle s’est donné pour mission de diffuser de l’information et de faire de la sensibilisation à cette problématique complexe et largement ignorée au Canada. Elle collabore bénévolement à titre de patiente partenaire avec une spécialiste en psychiatrie reproductive et une psychologue clinicienne. Au fil de ses recherches personnelles, elle s’est intéressée de façon plus globale à la santé mentale périnatale, constatant l’immense retard que le Canada accuse en termes de professionnels de la santé qualifiés et de services cliniques disponibles. Aline is now retired after having worked for 34 years as an administrative employee for Quebec universities. In 2015, she discovered the specific phobia that had plagued her from a young age had a name: primary tocophobia (fear of pregnancy and childbirth) – and that this pathological condition was the object of research for more than twenty years. Since then, she has made it her mission to spread information and raise awareness about this complex issue that is largely overlooked in Canada. She voluntarily collaborates as a patient partner with a specialist in reproductive psychiatry and a clinical psychologist. While doing personal research, she has developed a broader interest in perinatal mental health, noting the huge gap that Canada is experiencing in terms of qualified health care professionals and available clinical services.
Anne Antenucci is a social media strategist and event planner with The Salvation Army of Thunder Bay. She is also married and the mother of three boys aged 8, 5 and one. Her journey in perinatal mental health started in 2011 when she delivered her stillborn daughter, Julianna Emily, full term. What followed has been 9 years of PTSD, postpartum depression and three subsequent pregnancies. The most recent pregnancy resulting in an emergency c-section and health problems afterwards. In addition to her own mental health, her eldest son has severe autism and is non-verbal. Anne believes that social media can bring us together and start a movement. Especially during a pandemic and social distancing, we are still together sharing our stories. We can lift each other up and advocate for ourselves and each other by sharing our stories….both good and bad. She firmly believes in the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “After all, tomorrow is another day.” This quote from her favourite novel has gotten her through some of her worst times. Anne lives in Thunder Bay with her husband, three boys and dog, Yogi (the only other female member of her household). She is an active member of her community sitting on many boards and committees in order to advocate for those that cannot do it for themselves. In her free time (which is very little) Anne enjoys weight lifting, knitting, watching Real Housewives and sleeping.
Tammy Bozzard is very passionate about mental health. She experienced postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosis after the birth of her daughter. She currently works as a Mental Health Peer Support Worker. As a certified Postpartum Doula, she believes that mothers need support and care. She is involved with a few community mental health action networks. She believes that the conversation about maternal mental health needs to be talked about and made a priority. She lives in beautiful British Columbia with her husband and their cat named Maggie. In her spare time, she enjoys crocheting and jewelry-making. Her favorite quote is: “ You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~ Gandhi
In 2008 I suffered with Postpartum Psychosis for almost 2 years. At the time, there was no resources available, to my knowledge. I was sent to numerous drs that just had no clue how to treat me. I was put on several medications that really just made me high. Fast forward….I had 3 more beautiful children and with each of them was terrified of going thru it again. Thankfully I didn’t. What was different this time? I had the knowledge I needed to see the signs and get help at the first sign of any depression. Knowledge = Power. In the past I have had many different jobs, mostly in Corporate. The one job that I did have that I believe would greatly help for this position ( besides lived experience) was working as Supervisor for a homeless initiative with the city of Toronto. I held that position for 4 years. Our goal was to advocate for those living on the streets dealing with homelessness and in most cases, mental health and addiction. As I enter my 40’s this year, one of my goals is to committing and advocating for change in Perinatal Mental Health. One day, I would love to get involved in Peer Counselling.
My name is Bonnie and I’m a proud first-time mother of my nine-month-old daughter. My birth story was neither the worst not the best, but it definitely gave me a reason to speak up about maternal mental health after understanding the range of feelings and emotions you go through immediately after birth; something you can try to prepare for during your entire pregnancy, but will not understand the extent of until you’ve personally gone through it yourself. Then I see friends who have gone through miscarriages, fertility issues, infant illnesses, and everything in between, and I ask myself the amount of mental strength they have because I myself would not know how I would be able to handle. When I dove into the subject a bit more, I realized there was no real system and not much of a socially acceptable decorum to bring this subject into light. Many people still don’t want to talk about the subjects heavily affecting mother’s mental health, including mothers, and it’s time to make a stand. So here I am, making a stand with a group of people who are passionate about this fight. Let’s do this!
My name is Nicole Devlin, I am 32 years old and have suffered and survived postpartum depression and anxiety. I currently reside in Calgary, Alberta with my son Brady who is three, my husband Kelly and my two fur kids Lady and Levi. I work an office job – I am a fierce advocate for perinatal mental health and helping the women who suffer. I am a trained peer support worker for women and families suffering with perinatal mood disorders and currently am being trained to support women through pregnancy loss. My hope through this role as Social Media Ambassador is to raise much needed awareness for perinatal mental health and inform our federal government about the much needed change and expanded services that support mothers who are experiencing mental health challenges. We too are being born as new moms and we need to feel supported, to reduce shame, and to access effective and efficient services when we need them most.
My name is Krystene Pickett. I live in Strathmore, Alberta. I have 3 beautiful children and an amazing supportive husband. I have survived postpartum depression and anxiety with two out of three of my children. I have always been an advocate for mental health and in the last few years have opened up myself with it to share the struggles with others so they feel less alone. I truly believe there needs to be more ways to help out and I want to be a part of the solution. I think that mental health is really important and the key is having support in the health system so that as woman we can be honest and not feel judged. So much of the stigma is from being afraid to speak or feeling alone. We need to end the stigma, we need to make a stand because there is so many people out there who would benefit from better support systems. My hope in being a social media ambassador is to be a part of that shift for these women who are suffering in silence to have a voice and finally be heard. In 2008 I suffered from postpartum psychosis for almost two years. At the time, there were no resources available, to my knowledge. I was sent to numerous doctors that just had no clue how to treat me. I was put on several medications that really just made me high. Fast forward….I had three more beautiful children and with each of them was terrified of going through it again. Thankfully I didn’t. What was different this time? I had the knowledge I needed to see the signs and get help at the first sign of any depression. Knowledge = Power. In the past I have had many different jobs, mostly in corporate. The one job that I did have that I believe would greatly help the committee ( besides lived experience) was working as supervisor for a homeless initiative with the City of Toronto. I held that position for four years. Our goal was to advocate for those living on the streets dealing with homelessness and in most cases, mental health and addiction. As I enter my 40s this year, one of my goals is to commit and advocate for change in perinatal mental health. One day, I would love to get involved in peer counselling.
My son Arden is 13 months old. After he was born, I struggled with severe depression and some anxiety. I wasn’t able to connect with my son or enjoy each stage he was in till he turned ten months old. It has been a long road with lots of ups and downs, thoughts of not wanting to live or that I shouldn’t have become a mom. But I am alive and happy and I am so passionate about helping other moms. I don’t want people to suffer as I have so I started a postpartum support group in my small town, which has gone over really well and I have some more plans to help the moms and moms-to-be in my community in the future. My husband, Dustin, and I moved to Claresholm, Alberta, five years ago. We wanted to be closer to the mountains that we had fallen in love with. We started hiking most weekends in the summer. Before we knew it, we started mountain biking and just doing all things in the mountains. Its become a lifestyle for us. I love being challenged physically and mentally. We have done a lot of challenging hikes and mountain bike riding and each time I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. It is important for me to push past my fears and insecurities because I believe it makes me a stronger person. My family doctor sent me this wonderful description of my postpartum journey. “Think of this as a big tough hike. There are hard parts but we are learning and growing and figuring out the best route for you. The switch backs can definitely seem to be a pain. However, we will get you to the summit where you can savour your success and enjoy the view”.