Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout gives a presentation to the Kids Can Fly Board of Directors. Special thank you to Rick and Susan Gamble for loaning space for program at TB Costain/Followers of Christ. Sarah Discher, Mitsie Lewis, Susan and Rick Gamble, Dr. Ryan Van Leishout, Sharon Brooks and Jennifer.


Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout shared details of the Peer-Delivered Group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Postpartum depression (PPD) with the Kids Can Fly Board of Directors and guests.  Currently, Dr. Van Lieshout is leading a research project in partnership with Kids Can Fly where women who have recovered from PPD facilitate the nine week program for new mothers experiencing PPD.

Postpartum depression (PPD) affects up to 20% of women and costs up to $250 000 per case over the life span. It is also associated with future major depressive episodes, increased health care utilization, partner relationship difficulties, and an increased risk of cognitive, behavioural, and emotional problems in children. For many women, PPD represents their first depressive episode, and given its relapsing and recurring course, it represents an important opportunity to detect and treat women to optimize their health. Just 10% of women with PPD get treatment.

Some of the barriers to detection and treatment are that women are concerned about

  • stigma
  • beliefs about a “happy” postpartum
  • wish to normalize symptoms
  • Worried that CAS may be called
  • medications/adverse effects
  • near non-existence of timely services
  • Limited or no psychotherapeutic options

Impact if untreated:

  • not breastfeeding, fewer midwife and physician visits
  • relationship problems
  • problems with attachment
  • more cognitive and behaviour problem in children

The Peer-Delivered Group CBT Program is free in Brantford.  It is a 9 week program offered at TB Costain- Followers of Christ Church and is offered continuously throughout the year.  Women are eligible if the baby is less than 12 months old, EPDS of 10-23 (diagnosis of PPD).  The program is delivered by recovered former suffers and is most effective when it is delivered by peers alone (no professionals present), structured and based on evidence based treatments.  Childminders (Baby Cuddlers) are available on site to give the mothers time to participate.

Preliminary results are showing a positive impact on recovery from the women and child minders.

Kids Can Fly is proud to be a part of this important groundbreaking work.  If a new mother is healthy and happy it has a profound effect on their children and the reverse is true too.

A special thank you to:

  • Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout, who has made women’s mental health during postpartum period his life’s work and is passionate to make a change in how PPD treatments are delivered in Canada.
  • Rick and Susan Gamble of Followers of Christ Church – TB Costain for leading their homey and comfortable space for the group meetings and their Sunday school space
  • Peer Therapists
  • Volunteer Child Minders/Baby Cuddlers
  • Bahar Amani, MA Study Coordinator
  • Mistie Lewis, Research Assistant


Dr. Van Lieshout is the Canada Research Chair in the Perinatal Programming of Mental Disorders, the Albert Einstein/Irving Zucker Chair in Neuroscience at McMaster and a psychiatrist at the Women’s Health Concerns Clinic where he sees women struggling with mental health problems during pregnancy and the postpartum period. https://psychiatry.mcmaster.ca/directory/bio/ryan-j-van-lieshout

His primary research interests are in the developmental origins of adult disease and in particular the perinatal programming of psychiatric disorders. To date, this has focused on examining links between maternal pre-pregnancy overweight/obesity and mental health in offspring, as well as associations between being born at extremely low birth weight and later psychopathology.

He is also interested in the diagnosis and treatment of psychopathology during pregnancy and the early postpartum period, and the impact these disorders and their treatments have on neurodevelopmental outcomes (including psychiatric risk) in offspring.