All posts by Amy Tubb

Implementing PIMH funding in Scotland: opportunities and risks

Blog by Clare Thompson, Everyone’s Business Co-ordinator for Scotland

In this article, I will discuss the recent work done by the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PIMH) Implementation Programme Board, the meetings of which I attend in my capacity as a Change Agent for Maternal Mental Health Scotland and an Everyone’s Business champion. Continue reading Implementing PIMH funding in Scotland: opportunities and risks

New Healthwatch report finds perinatal mental health support is variable

A recent survey, conducted by Healthwatch England, of 1,738 women who had been affected by perinatal mental health problems highlights inconsistencies in support during pregnancy and after having a baby, despite national NICE guidelines.

In their most recent report ‘Mental health and the journey to parenthood’, Healthwatch outline their findings. Continue reading New Healthwatch report finds perinatal mental health support is variable

Lucie’s story

Emma’s death should not be in vain.

Lucie’s story (Surrey)

There are no words to describe losing a sibling at such a young age; and this loss is even more tragic because I know with the right support my big sister’s passing could have been avoided. If she’d received the perinatal mental care she needed after her son’s birth, she would still be here today.

But in the UK, the sad reality is that many new mums are suffering with perinatal mental health issues on their own. Statistically, depression and anxiety affects 15 to 20% of women in the first year after childbirth, but many cases of perinatal depression and anxiety still go undetected.

Mental health is still taboo

As a young mum, I’ve witnessed this prevalence first hand. A few weeks ago, I looked around the small toddler group I attend and realised there were at least three mums who had spoken to me about their perinatal mental health issues, and they were just the ones who had confided in me.

Unfortunately, in our culture, mental health remains a taboo that we feel the need to hide and often have secret internal battles with. But if the mums I meet every week didn’t have to put on a brave face and knew they weren’t the only person in the room struggling, they’d all have an immediate support network.

We must push for change

As well as getting more people to talk about mental health before and after birth, it’s vital all women in the UK who experience perinatal mental illness receive the care they and their families need. I know if it was me who had died, Emma would have tirelessly pushed for this change.

That’s why I wanted to share my story and wholeheartedly support the Everyone’s Business campaign. For me, Emma’s death should not be in vain. We owe it to her and her son to prevent the mental ill health of other pregnant and postnatal women going unrecognised, undiagnosed and untreated.

 

If the content of this story causes you to think of anything that has happened to you or someone you know and you feel upset, worried or uncomfortable, please see our support page for a list of services who may be able to help.

Dani’s story

I was very fortunate that I was able to get the support that I needed.

Dani’s story (Belfast)

I felt great at the start of my first pregnancy. But at six to seven months I developed a liver problem and my blood pressure started to go up. I was put on tablets and believed, maybe naively, that everything was okay.

Then, during the birth of my daughter, I had an eclamptic seizure. I can remember the midwife pressing the red button, lots of shouting, the blue spinal board, and then waking up coughing, because of the tube in my throat.

“What I don’t remember are my first moments with my baby.”

Crippling anxiety

One month after I gave birth, I started to have flashbacks and recurring dreams about the seizure. I told my community midwife which led to me being monitored through watchful waiting. I then lost sensation down my right side and felt breathless, which led to me being admitted to hospital one week before Christmas. I was now separated from my 10-week-old daughter, which meant her breastfeeding was abruptly stopped.

“It was the worst Christmas ever.”

In A&E and on the ward I felt terrified and very anxious, but I assumed everything would settle down once I got home. It didn’t. I had crippling anxiety; my chest felt tight; I felt shaky and vomited; I didn’t want to be left on my own; and I continued to have flashbacks. I just didn’t feel like me and all my confidence was gone. Eventually, during the Christmas holidays, I contacted my midwife for help. Thankfully, I was referred quickly to a specialist perinatal mental health community team clinical psychologist who diagnosed me with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder].

Taking back control

With the perinatal psychologist I started CBT [cognitive behavioural therapy], which involved doing mindfulness and breathing exercises, and using visualisation techniques. This helped me to rationalise my anxiety and break the cycle of negativity. It was the biggest part of my recovery, giving me back a sense of control.

Over time, my physical symptoms started to ease and the good days gradually increased. I then had a couple of appointments with my psychologist during my second pregnancy, which me helped a lot. But unfortunately, I did have another traumatic experience during the birth of my third child.

Once again, I turned to my perinatal psychologist for help. This time it was a lot easier to manage my symptoms because of what I’d learnt previously, and because I knew support was available.

“Sadly, though, I know my experience is the exception, not the norm.”

In 80% of Northern Ireland, women and their families cannot access specialist perinatal mental health services and we also don’t have a Mother and Baby Unit. I believe this must change, because I don’t know how I would have coped without the support I received.

 

If the content of this story causes you to think of anything that has happened to you or someone you know and you feel upset, worried or uncomfortable, please see our support page for a list of services who may be able to help.

MMHA collaborates with iHV on PIMH conference #iHVPIMH19

This year’s Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) conference, in collaboration with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), will focus on the importance of good relationships in perinatal and infant mental health (PIMH) care.

“We are delighted to collaborate with iHV on their second annual PIMH conference and look forward to welcoming delegates, hearing from those with experience of PIMH care and discussing opportunities to improve relationships and access to specialist services.” Clare Dolman, Vice Chair of the MMHA

Continue reading MMHA collaborates with iHV on PIMH conference #iHVPIMH19

Summer 2019 campaign e-bulletin out now

The Everyone’s Business Summer 2019 e-bulletin has all the latest updates from the Campaign, including details about:

  • Progress in England and the remaining challenges.
  • What’s happening with the £50 million in Scotland
  • How campaigners in Northern Ireland are making the case for specialist services.

Download now

Please share with anyone who may be interested, and if you are on Twitter retweet the e-bulletin from @MMHAlliance using #everyonesbusiness.

Don’t miss out

If you would like to receive our quarterly campaign news straight to your inbox, please sign up to our mailing list using the box on the right.

For physical copies, email amyt@maternalmentalhealthalliance.org.

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

When is it?

10th to 16th June 2019.

What is it?

A week-long campaign organised by The Association for Infant Mental Health UK (AIMH UK).

This year’s topic is ‘Difficult Beginnings’.

What’s happening and how to get involved

AIMH (UK) will be sharing articles each day following a different theme, see full list on the AIMH (UK) website.

Join in the discussion on Twitter using #IMHAW19.

Positive steps taken in Scotland to improve access to inpatient care

In 2015, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland carried out a themed visit to find out how many women received care in a local adult acute ward, without their baby, during a period of perinatal mental illness. They found that just over one third of women were separated from their baby, sometimes for a prolonged period. In Scotland, it is a legal duty for Health Boards to provide joint mother and baby admissions. Continue reading Positive steps taken in Scotland to improve access to inpatient care

Political parties in Northern Ireland agree landmark maternal mental health Consensus Statement

We in Northern Ireland urgently request the commitment of investment and ring-fencing of funds required to ensure women, babies, families and communities get the care and support they need and deserve.” 
– Consensus Statement on the improvement of Perinatal Mental Health services in Northern Ireland

Despite the stalemate in Stormont, all political parties in Northern Ireland have co-signed a ground-breaking Consensus Statement, drafted as part of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance Everyone’s Business campaign, committing to close the gap in specialist mental health provision for women during pregnancy and the first year after giving birth.

England, Scotland and Wales have faced similar challenges with their specialist perinatal mental health services, but in recent years each have seen significant improvements due to specific and targeted investment. While stakeholders in Northern Ireland have shown support in principal, until now a formal commitment had not been made. Continue reading Political parties in Northern Ireland agree landmark maternal mental health Consensus Statement

NHS England announce specialist mental health support for new mums now available across England

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s (MMHA) Everyone’s Business campaign welcomes today’s announcement from NHS England about the opening of specialist perinatal mental health services in the remaining areas of England, meaning women should now be able to access life-saving care in their local area. Continue reading NHS England announce specialist mental health support for new mums now available across England