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.
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.