All posts by fiona.salter

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.


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

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

MMHA joins BBC 5 live for #Mum Takeover

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance is proud to be an official supporter of the BBC 5 Live Mum Takeover, along with Netmums and Better Start Blackpool., on 28 November.

This will be the UK’s biggest conversation around mums and mental health – a two hour programme streamed live on the BBC Facebook pages as well as BBC 5 Live and across the BBC.

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s Chair Dr Alain Gregoire will join BBC 5 live’s panel of experts at a discussion at Blackpool Tower (28 November, 1pm-3pm) alongside a Government representative and mum-of-one, DJ and Broadcaster Neev Spencer, who’s worked with the Heads Together Campaign.

TV presenter Rochelle Humes, Former X Factor contestant and Loose Women presenter Stacey Solomon, and popular blogger and author Giovanna Fletcher will be doing everything from fielding questions from the audience to hosting digital films.

The day will also be supported by a range of social media influencers, including Hurrah For Gin, Tired And Tested and The Motherload.

The 5 live Mum Takeover is part of BBC 5 live’s year-long State Of Mind campaign, covering a range of mental health issues.

Apply for tickets to the BBC Radio 5 live Mum Takeover here

Normalising paternal mental illness

Here Louis Dunn from Bluebell Care describes his experiences of perinatal mental illness and how people with lived experience can help to ‘normalise’ mental illness.

Bluebell is a growing charity based in Bristol supporting mums, dads and families who are affected by antenatal or postnatal depression and anxiety. I lead their emotional support service for new dads, which is called Dads in Mind.  My role is to offer peer support via telephone and text, one to one meetings and group meet ups.  I have also recently been promoting the Dads in Mind service through talking about my own journey with perinatal illness in media outlets, including print and film interviews. Continue reading Normalising paternal mental illness

MMHA – Official Supporter of BBC 5 live’s Mum Takeover on Mums and Mental Health

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s Chair Dr Alain Gregoire is to join BBC 5 live’s panel of experts at the UK’s biggest conversation about mums and mental health at an event at Blackpool Tower later this month (28 November, 1pm-3pm).

The 5 live’s Mum Takeover, officially supported by Netmums, Better Start Blackpool and Maternal Mental Health Alliance, will welcome well-known mothers who have spoken publicly about their own – sometimes difficult – experiences of having babies and being mums.

They will discuss a range of challenges faced by young mothers everywhere, looking at everything from post-natal depression and anxiety, to work/life balance and tackling loneliness.

Ex-Saturdays singer and TV presenter Rochelle Humes, DJ Neev Spencer and popular blogger and author Giovanna Fletcher will also be heading to Blackpool to take part and meet mums in the audience.

Mum Takeover supporters Netmums, the Maternal Mental Health Alliance and Better Start Blackpool will be represented on a panel of experts alongside a government representative. 5 live’s Anna Foster and Stacey Solomon will co-chair, and will take questions from the audience and from people getting in touch online.

The entire event will be live streamed via BBC Facebook accounts, and BBC 5 live will dip in and out of the day’s proceedings on air throughout the afternoon. The Mum Takeover will use the hashtag #mumtakeover, and 5 live hopes there will be plenty of discussion online.

Mums everywhere are invited to come along or join in online. Free tickets are available now via BBC Audiences.

Dr Alain Gregoire presents Trust Me, I’m A Doctor, Mental Health Special

Trust Me, I’m a Doctor is back with a special programme on mental health on 1st November 2017 at 9pm, BBC Two.

New presenter and Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, psychiatrist Dr Alain Gregoire, reveals how to recognise a mental health problem, the key factors that psychiatrists assess – mood, thinking and behaviour – and gives advice on how to deal with problems before they become overwhelming and have a serious impact on our health.

Alain said:
“It has been great fun working with the fantastic team at the BBC on Trust me I’m a Doctor, and most of all it has been a pleasure to be part of a greater emphasis on the fascinating area of mental health in the series and in the media generally”

Continue reading Dr Alain Gregoire presents Trust Me, I’m A Doctor, Mental Health Special

Supporting positive conversations about feeding choice and mental health in the perinatal period

by Shereen Fisher and Wendy Jones.

Wendy Jones  is a pharmacist, published author and a Registered Supporter and Trainer with the Breastfeeding Network. Wendy has combined these two roles and has developed a special interest in the safety of drugs in breastmilk. She has run the Drugs in Breastmilk service for the charity since 2007.
Shereen Fisher, Chief Executive of the Breastfeeding Network, has over 15 years leadership and management experience working in the charity sector. She is passionate and driven to improve awareness on issues affecting choice in infant feeding for all families and breastfeeding mothers.

The relationship between how a woman feeds her baby, and her perinatal mental health is a complex one.

Our emotional state and mental health in the perinatal period may affect how we decide to feed our baby. Choosing how we feed our little one may be based on many things such as how our own mum fed us, advice from professionals and what we have seen friends and family do. Our emotional wellbeing – factors such as how we feel about ourselves, our bodies and our relationships – can also influence this decision. Continue reading Supporting positive conversations about feeding choice and mental health in the perinatal period

‘Inspiring and full of innovative buzz’ the first Maternal Mental Health Alliance Conference

“Such an inspiring inaugural event full of innovative buzz,” “Learnt so much at MMHA Conference Bring on 2018!” Tweets like this summed up the response to the First Annual UK Maternal Mental Health Alliance Conference on the transgenerational impact of poor maternal mental health.

Everyone who attended, plus the hundreds who followed the day’s events on Twitter, appreciated the chance to hear cutting edge research mixed with stories of lived experience. The conference had a strong following on social media, trending on Twitter during the morning and gathering 4.4 million Twitter impressions for #MMHAconf17.

Continue reading ‘Inspiring and full of innovative buzz’ the first Maternal Mental Health Alliance Conference