All posts by Amy Tubb

Summer 2020 Everyone’s Business eBulletin out now!

 

Front cover of the MMHA Everyone's Business Summer 2020 eBulletin
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The Everyone’s Business summer 2020 eBulletin contains the latest from the Everyone’s Business Campaign and UK perinatal mental health (PMH) community.

The first half explores the impact COVID-19 has have on mums, families and the health professionals supporting them in the perinatal period. It includes information about:

  1. Our Plea to PLAN: campaign calls in light of the pandemic
  2. How MMHA members responded to the crisis and continue to provide mental health support to new and expectant mums
  3. A reminder that services across the pathway are open!

The second half focusses on important campaign developments, including exciting news from Northern Ireland, and our expert by experience champions articulate why they think specialist PMH services are more important than ever.

Please share widely among your networks! On Twitter, please tag @MMHAlliance and #EveryonesBusiness.

Also available in Welsh!

This eBulletin has been translated into Welsh to support campaigners working hard to make maternal mental health Everyone’s Business in Wales.

Download the Welsh summer 2020 eBulletin now

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Sign up to our mailing list to recieve the Everyone’s Business Campaign eBulletin every quarter.

For physical copies, please email sian@maternalmentalhealthalliance.org.

How perinatal mental health services in Wales reacted to the pandemic

Update from Dr Sarah Witcombe-Hayes, Everyone’s Business Campaign Wales Coordinator

Service adaptations

Perinatal mental health

In Wales, community perinatal mental health (PMH) services have continued to operate throughout the COVID-19 crisis, providing support to mums, dads/partners and the families who need it.

Fortunately, PMH teams were unaffected by redeployment to other frontline areas and were able to work quickly and innovatively to ensure appointments moved online or over the phone, where possible. More intensive face-to-face support has been determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on need. Support and consultation for other healthcare colleagues have also been prioritised. Continue reading How perinatal mental health services in Wales reacted to the pandemic

Michaela’s story

It’s vital perinatal healthcare becomes a priority on a national level.

Michaela’s story (Belfast)

Following the birth of my eldest daughter, who’s now six, I suffered with severe postnatal depression, psychosis and anxiety. Thankfully, I received support from the perinatal team including a psychiatrist, a mental health home treatment team, a psychologist at my local hospital and mental health nurses.

I benefited greatly from this network of support; and I want women and their husbands and partners to know that often help and hope is out there, if they are going through a difficult time.

We need to do more

However, there is still much more that needs to be done to provide every woman with the mental health services they need before, during and after having a baby. In particular, I wanted to speak to other women going through similar circumstances, but there was no support group for women with postnatal depression in my area.

This is why I wholeheartedly support the Everyone’s Business campaign and have spoken at events such as the Northern Ireland Maternal Mental Health conference, where I was on the Parents Panel. It’s vital perinatal mental health care becomes a priority on a national level and professionals who care for women during and after pregnancy receive appropriate mental health care training.

No depression now

If we can achieve these aims, there’s a far greater chance that more pregnant women and new mothers will receive the network of support they need, like I did. As well as making a huge difference during dark and difficult times, this specialist help can make women more prepared for the future. During my second pregnancy and postnatally, because I had a history of perinatal mental health problems, I was under the specialist perinatal mental health team

Now, I have zero depression and a second daughter. I didn’t suffer with any mental health problems.

 


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.

Jillian’s story

I have no doubt that my recovery would have been quicker and my husband’s experience less traumatic if I’d been under specialist perinatal mental health care.

Jillian’s story (West Lothian, previously County Antrim)

Whilst living in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy in February 2007. Because breastfeeding took a while to establish, we didn’t go home until four days after my son’s arrival. But everything seemed normal, perfect even, when we did return home.

That was until I started to think my dead grandparents were talking to me, telling me my baby was sent from God. I obviously knew something wasn’t right and frantically read through books to understand what was going on. I self-diagnosed postpartum psychosis to my midwife the next morning, who advised me that my husband and I needed time to adjust to parenthood.

A terrifying time

On day seven after the birth, things had escalated to such a point that on the evening I growled at my husband, “If you don’t listen to me, I’m going to shake your baby!” Words that still haunt him today. After this incident, an ambulance was called and I was taken to a general psychiatric ward, because there was no Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) in Northern Ireland.

My husband had no idea what was happening to me, and was hysterical, but he had to return home for our son. Thankfully, my mum flew over from Scotland the next morning. She was his stand-in mum for 12 weeks, as this is how long I stayed in hospital for. These 12 weeks were a rollercoaster ride for everyone and the impact of being separated from my baby can’t really be put into words.

I started making progress after receiving Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) and was discharged home after 12 sessions. Our journey after discharge was long and challenging but we got there.

We’re still affected today

Missing out on so many of my son’s firsts is difficult to think about. And although I’ve been fully recovered for many years now, my husband still struggles with his mental health because of post-traumatic stress caused by my psychosis and the lack of support he received.

I have no doubt that my recovery would have been quicker, and my partner’s experience less traumatic, if I’d been under specialist perinatal mental health care. That hurts so, so much, as does the thought that our son is now 13 years old and there is still no MBU in Northern Ireland.

 

Visit MMHA member Have you seen that girl?‘s website to read more about Jillian’s journey.

 


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.

Catherine’s story

What the staff at the mother and baby unit did was help me pick up the pieces of my life and put them back together.

Catherine’s story (Scotland)

I didn’t realise I was ill. I put things down to sleep deprivation, the shock of becoming a new mum and an infection I’d developed after the C-section. I thought all these things together probably explained why I felt a little bit off.

But things started to get a lot worse. I truly believed my baby had been swapped at birth. And I even believed road signs were tailored messages for me. I saw a sign which said, “Please observe at all times”, and I thought it was telling everybody else they should be observing me.

Putting my life back together

Five months after the birth of Beatrix I was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis. This led to me being treated for six weeks at the mother and baby psychiatric unit (MBU) at St John’s hospital, Livingston. After which I was admitted one more time.

What the staff at the MBU did was help me pick up the pieces of my life and put them back together. I’d completely lost my confidence as a mother and felt like I couldn’t be trusted to be alone with Bea. But they helped to rebuild my confidence, and so did my mum and husband after I was discharged.

Treatable with the right support

I think it’s really easy for mums to think everything is their fault when things don’t go to plan following the birth of a child. You think you must be a bad mum in some way, but obviously that’s not true at all when someone is struggling with postpartum psychosis.

It’s a treatable illness like any other – like diabetes. People just need to be supported through it. They need access to mother and baby units; and they need to feel okay about seeking out this support, which means tackling the stigma still associated with maternal mental health problems.

 


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 launch new COVID-19 maternal mental health guidance

These are uncertain times for us all, but particularly those who are expecting or have recently had a baby.

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) does not usually create materials for mums directly, but in these extraordinary times, MMHA members, staff and leading experts have collaborated on guidance to help new and expectant mums protect their mental wellbeing.

Read and share the guidance now >

Now also available in Welsh

In the hope of reaching as many new and expectant mums in the UK as possible with expert information to support their mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the MMHA guidance is also available in the Welsh language:

Read and share Welsh guidance now >

 


Special thanks to those Maternal Mental Health Alliance membersEveryone’s Business lived experience champions, maternity and maternal mental health professionals who helped produce this guidance.

 

Perinatal mental health services more important now than ever as we emerge from the pandemic

Think piece by Joanne Smith, Everyone’s Business Scotland Coordinator

On World Maternal Mental Health Day, the time is right to reflect on the progress made in Scotland to protect pregnant women, new mums and their babies during the perinatal period.
 

While there have been encouraging signs of progress following the establishment of the perinatal managed clinical network and the perinatal and infant mental health programme board, the levels of specialist provision still falls short in most parts of the country, meaning right now, women and families still face a postcode lottery.

Continue reading Perinatal mental health services more important now than ever as we emerge from the pandemic

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

What is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week?

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week is a week-long campaign dedicated to talking about mental illness during and after pregnancy.

It’s all about raising public and professional awareness of perinatal mental illness, advocating for women affected by it, and helping them access the information, care and support they need to recover. Continue reading Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week 2020