Calls for more support for postpartum depression while deaths of mom, children remain under investigation
Crews pulled the body of 32-year-old Lisa Gibson from the Red River on Saturday, days after her two children were found July 24 in critical condition in the family’s home in Winnipeg’s Westwood neighbourhood.
The children were rushed to hospital but died.
A police source told CTV News that Gibson had been struggling with postpartum depression.
A search was launched for Gibson last week, before her body was eventually located. While it’s not yet known what caused the deaths, the topic of postpartum depression has been drawing increased attention.
The image of Gibson’s body being pulled from the Red River on the weekend is one Nellie Kennedy struggles to come to terms with because she feels it could have just as easily been her.
“This is a very real possibility for anyone. You know we can’t control our brain chemistry,” said Kennedy.
She is on medication for postpartum depression now, but with her first child she had it so severe she was hospitalized. Kennedy said resources were hard to come by.
She said she felt the weight was on her to recognize the signs of postpartum depression and seek the help of a psychologist.
“I wouldn’t have known. Nobody referred me the first time when I was discharged from hospital so it’s disheartening,” she said.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said it has many resources to detect and treat postpartum depression.
“So it really is a tiered system which really provides the appropriate intervention based on the circumstances and particular needs for a woman,” said Dr. Carrie Lionberg, a psychologist and postpartum depression specialist.
Some moms, however, feel there’s a disconnect. Nicole Gamble said she’s trying to bridge that gap.
Gamble said she runs Winnipeg’s only support group for mothers with postpartum depression.
She said she started it after being diagnosed herself and noticing a lack of resources.
“So many people slip through those cracks. Not everybody gets that home visit, and if they do it's usually in the first week and as we know people don't always start that early,” said Gamble.
Kennedy said she also feels postpartum healthcare focuses only on the baby and overlooks a mother’s mental health.
“There’s nothing to do with how mom is coping and her mental ability. All the checklist has to do is about baby,” said Kennedy.
She hopes recent media attention for postpartum depression brings changes to resources and also helps make moms more comfortable asking for help.
Winnipeg police continue to investigate the deaths of Lisa Gibson and her two children.
- with a report from Alesia Fieldberg