On International Women’s Day let’s work for equality between mental and physical health

International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the achievements of women from the past, and shine a light on the work being done by women for the pursuit of gender equality. International Women’s Day also creates an opportunity to raise awareness of the issues that many women continue to face across the globe.

Faced with social expectations of motherhood, as well as cultural, religious and economic factors – many new and expectant mums dealing with mental health problems often suffer in silence.

In the UK, more than 1 in 10 women develop mental health problems during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth, and around half of them have little to no access to specialist perinatal mental health services, making it difficult for them to get the help and support that they need.

Sally Hogg, Strategic Lead for Mums and Babies in Mind said:

“Perinatal mental health has been ignored and undervalued for too long. Not only is it a woman’s health issue, but it is also a mental health issue and we are still a long way from achieving parity of esteem between mental and physical health. We will continue to work to ensure that this important area of healthcare gets the attention it deserves – harnessing the powerful voices of women themselves to help make the case for change.”

From health care professionals, employers, to family and friends, we all have a role to play in supporting women who are dealing with perinatal mental health problems. Start by signing up to our Mums and Babies in Mind blog, check out our Everyone’s Business campaign maps to see just how patchy the current provision of services is and visit the new Global Alliance site, launched today.


Second Maternal Mental Health Matters Week

Second UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Week

Last year was the first UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Week, led by one of our members, Perinatal Mental Health Partnership UK. This year the week will be taking place again with an opportunity to communicate the message that maternal mental health matters. During the week, World Maternal Mental Health Day will also take place on Wednesday 2nd May.


When is it?

30th April 2018 – 6th May 2017 (2nd May World Maternal Mental Health Day)


What happened last year?

A number of activities happened throughout the week including nightly #PNDHours, live Facebook chats, coffee mornings, cake-baking, buggy walks and the opportunity to share resources and stories. A huge range of organisations took part with the aim of raising awareness of maternal mental health and supporting women and families. An evaluation of the week is here.


How you can get involved

  • Email perinatalmhpartnership@gmail.com to join the mailing list and be kept up to date
  • Come up with your own ideas to highlight that #maternalMHmatters
  • Use the hashtag #maternalMHmatters on social media
  • Join in with and support activities being organised by other groups


Physical and Mental Health in the Postnatal Period

Emma Brockwell is a women’s health physiotherapist in Surrey, with a particular passion for helping women to recover after birth. Here she writes about the links between physical and mental health in the postnatal period.

Pregnancy and childbirth are life-changing events that affect women both physically and mentally. Whilst their impacts affect women at different levels and in many different ways, it is rare to have a baby and not be affected in some capacity. As a women’s health physiotherapist I see that physical and mental health issues often go hand in hand, but as a system we are very poor at seeing and treating these conditions and giving women the holistic care that they need.

Continue reading Physical and Mental Health in the Postnatal Period

MMHA’s response to Government’s green paper on children’s mental health

Responding to the Government’s green paper for children’s mental health, ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’, Clare Dolman, Vice Chair, of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), said:

“A child’s mental health is influenced from the moment of conception – and indeed before. We believe that Government should be setting out a strategy for preventing mental illness in childhood: using recent research to address the root causes of children’s mental health problems – not simply to treat them when the damage is already done.”

“We know that this Government and NHS England understand the importance of tackling perinatal mental health and we welcome the investment that they have made in specialist perinatal mental health community services, as described in the Green Paper.

“However, it will be critically important to ensure that these new funds for specialist services deliver well-planned services and are not wasted, absorbed elsewhere or misspent.  Clear accountability at the local level is essential to ensure the funding results in good quality services that meet national standards.

“Women need a range of services and pathways to be in place in every local area to support their mental health in the perinatal period. The MMHA is also calling for action across universal services, including ensuring that every maternity service has a Specialist Mental Health Midwife and Health Visitor.”

Read the MMHA’s full response to the consultation here.

Apply now for Wave 2 funding for specialist perinatal mental health services

Applications are now open for a second wave of funding for specialist perinatal mental health community services in England. These specialist teams are vital to help end the postcode lottery women currently face when trying to access these much needed services.

From today Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) footprints can bid for some of the £23 million pot NHS England has made available to help local areas expand existing specialist community teams or develop a small new team.

The MMHA’s Everyone’s Business Campaign hopes all areas, which don’t have specialist community teams that meet the national quality standards, will submit a bid, as we know there are women throughout the UK who need to be able to access these services.

Clare Dolman, Vice-Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance welcomed the funding news saying, “I hope as many areas as possible develop a bid. We want to see this new wave of funding help Turn The Map Green so that all women and their families receive the care they need wherever they live in the country.”

Continue reading Apply now for Wave 2 funding for specialist perinatal mental health services

Applications now open for MMHA’s first board of trustees

Members of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance have recently agreed for the MMHA to register as an independent charity, and we are pleased to announce that we are now recruiting our first board of trustees.

We hope to receive applications from a wide range of people interested in serving as trustees, including individuals directly involved in perinatal mental health work or those with other skills that we are looking for.

This is a hugely exciting time to join us as a trustee. The MMHA is widely acknowledged to have had an impact on recent maternal mental health policy, including the investment in England in specialist services for women with severe perinatal mental health problems. But there is still much to do – we must make sure that recent investment in specialist services is not wasted, absorbed elsewhere or misspent and is matched throughout the UK; we must continue to tackle stigma; to support those working to improve services on the ground and to improve care for all women including those with mild – moderate perinatal mental health problems.

You can read the job description and find out how to apply by clicking here. The deadline for applications is 13 April 2018 with interviews scheduled to take place in the weeks commencing 23 and 30 April.


Strengthening parent-infant mental health in Warwickshire

Sophy Forman-Lynch has worked in the field of public health for 24 years in the UK, Pakistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and India.

She has worked in maternal and child health, mental health and well-being, alcohol and substance misuse, offender health, sexual health and asset-based community approaches.

Sophy is currently working for the Public Health Team in Warwickshire County Council with a focus on the ‘early years’. This includes involvement in the re-commissioning of health visiting services.

In 2016 Warwickshire’s multi-agency strategic Smart Start Programme undertook three pieces of research to hear the voices and experiences of over of 1,030 Warwickshire parents of children aged 0-5 years (including expectant parents), and 275 multi-agency staff working with expectant parents and young families.

Parents and workers told us that more needed to be done to promote and support parent-infant mental health and wellbeing in Warwickshire.

The experience of loneliness and social isolation amongst new parents was common, and was frequently reported to have had a significant impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Continue reading Strengthening parent-infant mental health in Warwickshire

Just do it! Using the MABIM mapping tool to find gaps in services and improve women’s experience

Sharon Humberstone from NHS North East Lincolnshire CCG is a Specialist Nurse for Safeguarding Adults and Children, helping practitioners working on safeguarding issues such as gender-based violence, the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy and modern slavery. She also supports the Commissioner for Women and Children working on perinatal mental health and co-ordinates iHV Champions training. Recently she has used the MABIM mapping tool to identify gaps in services and improve the experience of women experiencing perinatal mental illness.

We asked Sharon how the mapping tool worked for her.

Why did you decide to use the mapping tool?

The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) decided that we needed to undertake a mapping exercise to look at our existing services and to identify where the gaps are. On recommendation from a colleague at the NSPCC we decided to use the MABIM mapping tool. We also took the opportunity to re-brand our ‘task and finish’ group as the North East Lincolnshire steering group. This gave us a chance to re-visit the membership and ensure that all partners were included. Our new steering group has representation from the CCG, maternity, health visiting, primary care, CAMHS, IAPT services, NSPCC, children’s social care, service users and adult mental health. Continue reading Just do it! Using the MABIM mapping tool to find gaps in services and improve women’s experience

Top 10 tips for mums: Perinatal mental health

Top 10 tips for mums: Perinatal mental health

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance is supporting BBC Radio 5 live’s #mumtakeover – the UK’s biggest conversation about motherhood and mental health. Here, we share our top tips for looking after your mental health before and after pregnancy.

1) Be realistic

Many of us have visions of what motherhood might be like, perpetuated by images in the media and social media. Try not to put pressure on yourself by building up unrealistic ideals of the birth you’ll have; the activities you’ll do with your baby, or the mother you’ll be. Be prepared to be led by what you and your baby need, rather than a pre-existing plan.

You have produced a human being. That’s amazing. Looking after a baby is hard, so take it easy on yourself. Being ‘good enough’ is just fine!

2) Understand more about mental health and mental illness

In your preparations for becoming a mum, it can be useful to read more about the risk factors for mental illness and the signs of being unwell. This can help you to understand if and when you might need more help. It’s really valuable to share this information with your partner too, so that they can support you. There is a lot of useful information online, such as this fact sheet.

3) Plan and prepare

While you are pregnant, you can plan how you can look after your emotional wellbeing when baby arrives, and what you might do if you’re struggling. Tools like the Emotional Wellbeing plan can help with this.

If you have a history of serious mental illness, health professionals like your midwife and mental health team can plan with you how to manage your illness through pregnancy, birth and parenthood.

Activities like preparing meals to freeze and looking into local activities and groups in advance, can help to make things easier when baby arrives.

#MumTakeover videos on maternal mental health

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance is supporting BBC Five live’s #MumTakeover – the UK’s biggest conversation on mums and mental health. Check out some of the videos below,.

Video from former Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain on trusting parental instinct: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05p6xcn



Vlogger Mama C on the importance of having a good network to avoid loneliness during and after pregnancy: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05p6xzn


How doulas might help those expectant mothers who’ve suffered trauma: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05p6636


Video on mindfulness for babies: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05p660h