All posts by Anna France-Williams

MMHA: new charitable status and new funding

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) has registered as an independent charity.  We have appointed a Board of Trustees and will launch our new trustee pages on the website soon. MMHA worked with alliance members to set up the new structure and register as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

The MMHA is thankful to our host organisations, Action on Postpartum Psychosis and the Mental Health Foundation, for all their help over the last few years in providing the support and infrastructure needed to enable the Alliance to campaign and improve perinatal mental health services for women and families.

We are very happy to announce that Comic Relief has agreed a further grant for the Everyone’s Business campaign and associated MMHA costs, starting in October 2018. This will enable MMHA to continue working towards a vision to see all women across the UK get consistent, accessible and quality care and support for their mental health during pregnancy and in the year after giving birth.

 

Latest campaign e-bulletin published

The Everyone’s Business campaign e-bulletin is now out, including details on new campaign maps launched, an England update, perinatal mental health discussed at Scottish parliament and a briefing paper from the Centre for Mental Health now available.

Download it here.

Please circulate far and wide and if you are on Twitter please retweet the e-bulletin from @MMHAlliance using the hashtag #everyonesbusiness.

If you would like to receive the e-bulletins directly please sign up to our mailing list using the box on the right.

Maternal Mental Health Roundtable commitments published

Last Autumn, the MMHA Everyone’s Business Campaign and the Department of Health, represented by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities Jackie Doyle-Price MP, co-hosted a roundtable meeting.

Attending this meeting were key national stakeholders who were brought together to discuss perinatal mental health. All organisations represented made pledges to help continue progress for perinatal mental health services.

The commitments have now been published and can be viewed here.

Continue reading Maternal Mental Health Roundtable commitments published

Elaine’s story

I ended up staying in a general psychiatric hospital for eight weeks…Being cared for without my son was not ideal.

Elaine’s story (Chester)

The birth of my son was very difficult. I had a retained placenta, which led to me haemorrhaging after he was born. A consequence of this traumatic experience was that I developed mild to severe postnatal depression, which eventually led to psychosis when my son was seven months old.

Given electroconvulsive therapy

Before my psychotic episode, I’d spoken to my GP, who prescribed me anti-depressants. I also joined a support group for six weeks. But things escalated and I ended up staying in a general psychiatric hospital for eight weeks. Being hospitalised without my baby was extremely difficult, and especially because I had to stop breastfeeding overnight. During my stay in the hospital, I was given ECT [electroconvulsive therapy] and worked with an occupational therapist. Following discharge, I was visited by a community psychiatric nurse.

More and better services

Being cared for without my son was not ideal. There needed to be more awareness then, as there needs to be more awareness now, of how perinatal mental health problems affect a woman and her family. We need to get more and even better specialist perinatal mental health services commissioned. If my feelings of shame had been effectively treated early on, and my family had been advised of ways to help me, I believe I would not have become so ill.

 

Charlie’s story

We need to put pressure on CCGs to provide more funding for sustainable services that are fit for purpose.

Charlie’s story (Bridport)

With all three of my children I struggled with perinatal mental health problems, including postnatal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. During these extremely difficult times, I received excellent support from a number of specialist perinatal mental health professionals. They included those working at my Mother and Baby Unit, midwives, community psychiatric nurses and health visitors. However, it was a struggle to get the help I needed; and the non-specialist support I was offered simply did not appreciate the intricacies of perinatal mental health.

Bonding activities

Something else that really helped me was a group called Growing Together at the children’s centre in Bridport. It was an intimate group of no more than eight families. Each week we went for an hour and a half and carried out a task to help us bond with our babies. We also made a scrap book, which we added to each week, reflecting on our activities and printing hand prints of our babies. The staff also took photos of us to put in it. It was great to be able to look back on and see how far we had come in terms of bonding and attachment and our mental health recovery.

More services needed

There are services out there which can help women suffering with perinatal mental health problems. But there simply aren’t enough of them; and if they are available, women are often struggling to access them. We need to put pressure on Clinical Commissioning Groups to provide more funding for sustainable services that are fit for purpose and which all women in need can access. I also think there’s an urgent need for greater help for the families of these women. My husband did not receive support from anyone, and that is a huge flaw in the system too.

International Fathers’ Mental Health Day

Today, June 18th, is International Fathers’ Mental Health Day, raising awareness globally about the need to get better support for dads.

Around 10% of fathers can experience mental health problems in the first year following the birth of their child. The international campaign is being led from the UK by Dr Andrew Mayers (a mental health campaigner and educator at Bournemouth University) and Mark Williams (a Bridgend dad who developed mental health problems after his wife experienced birth trauma, but is now a global campaigner for parents). They are working with partners in the USA and Australia.

Continue reading International Fathers’ Mental Health Day

New mums face gaps in vital specialist mental health services in Wales

Thousands of new mums in Wales who need treatment for mental health problems during pregnancy or following birth are facing different levels of specialist care based on where they live according to new research from NSPCC Cymru/Wales, Mind Cymru the National Centre for Mental Health and the Mental Health Foundation.

Continue reading New mums face gaps in vital specialist mental health services in Wales

Briefing paper launched on perinatal mental health

The Everyone’s Business Campaign has worked with the Centre for Mental Health and the Mental Health Challenge to produce a briefing paper on perinatal mental health.

The Mental Health Challenge was set by seven mental health charities working together to improve mental health across England and encouraging local authorities to take a proactive approach to tackling mental health.

Councillors across the country have signed up to become Mental Health  Member Champions, leading the way in tackling mental health inequalities in their area. This briefing is designed to help them in their work

In the briefing we have summarised the evidence and explained what local authorities can do to champion perinatal mental health.

Download the briefing paper.

 

Maternal mental health profiled in VIEW Digital Magazine

Northern Irish social affairs magazine, VIEW Digital, has profiled maternal mental health in its latest issue providing a key resource for helping to turn the Everyone’s Business campaign map green. The magazine was supported by the campaign and guest edited by Lindsay Robinson (who is currently acting as the Everyone’s Business Northern Ireland Campaign Coordinator).

View the magazine here.

One-hour debate on perinatal mental health in Scottish parliament

A ground-breaking one-hour debate on perinatal mental health in Scotland was broadcast live from the BBC in the Scottish Parliament on 17th May. SNP MSP Clare Haughey put forward a motion on the Everyone’s Business Campaign and the need for perinatal mental health services in Scotland. This was supported by (with references to the new campaign maps) Minister for Mental Health, Maureen Watt, Green MSP Alison Johnstone, Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole- Hamilton, Labour MSP Anas Sarwar and Tory MSP Annie Wells.

Watch the debate here.