Sally’s story (South Lanarkshire)
I was diagnosed with severe postnatal depression [PND] after the birth of my second child in July 2013. The NHS only offered me medication and referred me to its Crisis team, who sent me home to listen to relaxation music.
I was also told it would take 21 weeks on the NHS to see a counsellor, but there was no way I could wait that long, so I visited a dedicated PND counselling service provided by the voluntary sector in Glasgow.
At my lowest point I was ready to end my life. My condition was affecting my whole family and my husband felt completely helpless. I could not be left on my own and felt like I couldn’t cope.
If I hadn’t had the counselling I received in Glasgow, I would not be here today. Thankfully, I am no longer taking any medication and the support I was given definitely saved my life.
Time for change
Since my illness, I have campaigned tirelessly for better NHS mental maternal health services. I have also taken up my case with the Scottish Parliament and met with the Health Minister, Michael Matheson.
If you broke your arm you would go to the hospital to get it ‘fixed’, but mental health doesn’t have that luxury, as there is still a huge stigma attached to mental illness and PND.
I strongly believe that there needs to be improved community services to support mothers and their families. If that help had been there, my family wouldn’t have had to seek private counselling. I feel the NHS has an enormous lack of understanding of mental health and better training is needed. We can save lives by investing in maternal mental health.