Our Team

Dr Jessica Heron - Chief Executive

Dr Jessica Heron is the Chief Executive of APP. Jess is a Senior Research Fellow in Perinatal Psychiatry at Birmingham University. She is a Psychologist by background and her research interests include: recovery from postpartum psychosis (PP); partner experience; models of care for women with postnatal illness; postnatal hypomania (‘the highs’) & bipolar spectrum symptoms triggered by childbirth; patient information development; & facilitating service user involvement. Find out more about Jess’s research, publications, and activities. For further information click here.


Kim Mullard - Director of Operations

Kim manages the day to day operations of the charity, including finance, HR, IT and governance. She is also responsible for grant fundraising and grant management.  Kim is a charity manager with many years’ experience in the international development sector; she joined APP in July 2017.

 


Louise Bennett - UK Programmes Manager

Louise works alongside Kim on APP's day to day operations, including HR, grants, and internal communications.  As a former manager in the broadcasting industry she has many years of experience in partnership working and project management. Louise joined APP in 2020.

Ellie Ware - National Peer Support Coordinator

Ellie coordinates APP’s peer support project. She trains and manages peer support volunteers who have recovered from PP and supports them to offer support to recovering women & their families. Ellie is a peer supporter herself and was a peer support volunteer for APP before becoming the coordinator. Ellie experienced PP after the birth of her son Moses in 2011.

Ellie’s background before working for APP was in HR and care management, supporting people with learning disabilities. In her spare time Ellie enjoys meditation, listening to music, and attempting to create some art occasionally!


Naomi Gilbert - Assistant Peer Support Coordinator

Naomi joined APP in March 2021 as Assistant Peer Support Coordinator, supporting Ellie with National peer support projects.  Naomi was a Trustee of APP from 2011 to 2017 and was an author of the APP Insider Guides.  She has a background in developing NHS peer support, training NHS professionals in perinatal mental health and has worked as researcher in psychological therapies.  She experienced PP after the birth of her daughters in 2005 and 2011.  In her spare time, Naomi loves swimming in the sea and rivers


 Jenny Stevenson - Assistant Peer Support Coordinator

Jenny became a volunteer online peer supporter in 2014 after attending an APP volunteer event and training session. She has been working with APP since October 2017, helping to moderate the peer support forum and assisting with some peer support volunteer training sessions.

Jenny suffered from postpartum psychosis ‘out of the blue’ 3 weeks after the birth of her son Toby in 2012 and spent a month on a Mother and Baby Unit. Finding the APP network and online peer support forum played a key role in her recovery and helped support her and her husband in planning a second pregnancy. Jenny had a second son, James, in 2016, fortunately with no recurrence of postpartum psychosis.

Jenny works in the NHS supporting GP practices. In her spare time she enjoys watching films, listening to music and having sing-alongs with her boys.


Hannah Bissett - National Coordinator (NHS Contracts & Regional Projects)

Hannah started working for APP alongside Ellie in 2017; she now oversees NHS contracts and regional projects, as well as regional volunteers throughout the country. She is also a peer supporter and attended the first training session held by APP in 2012. Hannah also undertakes a Regional Representative role for APP making links with other women and families, together with a range of professionals, to raise awareness of PP and APP.

Hannah had an episode of postpartum psychosis in 2009 "out of the blue" after the birth of her eldest son Sebastian and spent time in a general psychiatric ward as well as a Mother & Baby Unit. After the birth of her second child Reuben in 2013, she stayed well and had no recurrence of PP.  Although originally a classically trained musician, Hannah's most recent work has been in adult social care; when not running around after her boys, she enjoys listening to music, country walks and boxercise.


Dr Sally Wilson - National Training Coordinator

Sally joined APP in 2019 and coordinates APP’s Workforce training and Expert by Experience talks for a range of health professionals across the UK. She was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis in 2015 after the birth of her daughter Ella and spent some time on a general psychiatric ward.

Sally has a background in research and lecturing in Health and Exercise Sciences at Bangor University. Her research interests include; approaches to improving quality of life in people with chronic illnesses and trialling novel ways to increase research in healthcare settings. In her spare time, Sally enjoys playing hockey, cycling, climbing and spending time with family and friends.


Jessie Hunt - Marketing and Digital Communications Coordinator

Jessie helps APP to raise awareness of postpartum psychosis, support women and families in sharing their stories and drive real-world change.

Jessie has a background in campaigning, marketing and digital for major brands and not-for-profit organisations. She has a BA in Anthropology and Communications and is passionate about the environment, art, mental health, supporting women and social justice.

Jessie experienced postpartum psychosis ‘out of the blue’ in 2013, two weeks after the birth of her baby. As an APP volunteer for many years, she has given peer support to women and families, shared her own story in the press (including on a BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour documentary), and has given many talks to doctors, midwives and health professionals. She has even run a half marathon to fundraise for APP! She joined the APP team as Social Media Co-ordinator in September 2019 and as Marketing and Digital Communications Co-ordinator in June 2020.

In her spare time, she loves walking her dog and enjoys a good cup of coffee.


Jocelyn Ellams - Peer Support Facilitator, Lancashire and South Cumbria

Jocelyn became a volunteer online peer supporter in February 2018, started working for APP and the project as a sessional peer support worker in March 2019, then became the facilitator in March 2020.

Jocelyn works with Lancashire and South Cumbria Trust providing face to face peer support and information to mums and their families at Ribblemere MBU in Chorley and in the local community. She supports women who have a history of PP or other manic / psychotic illnesses such as bipolar.

Jocelyn gave birth and became ill while living in Brazil. She had no idea what was happening to her and received no support from the professionals there. Through researching perinatal mental illness she found APP and the online forum. The support from other women who had been through the same experiences was inspirational and gave her hope that she would get better.


Annette Wood - Peer Support Sessional Worker, Lancashire and South Cumbria

Annette joined APP in September 2020. Her main role involves working alongside the peer support facilitator providing peer support and guidance to women and families affected by postpartum psychosis. Annette had PP in 2014 after the birth of her daughter and spent time in an Mother and Baby Unit.

In 2017 Annette was asked by the NHS if she would like to use her own lived experience of PP and mental health services to be apart of a pioneering team that would go onto transform and develop new perinatal mental health services across England and the opening of the new Ribblemere Mother and Baby Unit in Chorley. Her main aim from the beginning of that process was to ensure that women and families throughout the country were able to access perinatal mental health support when they needed it, and how important it is to have early intervention and have the right support put in place at the right time.

Along that journey Annette was introduced to APP and was inspired by all the incredible work they do to help women suffering the effects of PP and how much that support really makes a difference. Annette was unaware of APP when she was unwell and feels strongly that the support they offer would of really aided her recovery.

Annette became a peer support volunteer with APP in 2018. Being able to give other women hope and a safe non-judgemental space to talk openly when they needed and to enable them to see that you can get better is something Annette has always been passionate about .She has seen first hand in her new role how invaluable peer support is and how it plays a key role in long term recovery.


Natalie Thompson - Peer Support Facilitator, Birmingham and Solihull

Natalie joined APP in July 2019,  working alongside Birmingham East Community Team and other peer support workers from Acacia and Approachable parenting. From 1st April 2020, Natalie will also be working with the South & Solihull team. Using her experience she will support women and families affected by PP (or other manic/psychotic illnesses) at a difficult and traumatic time.

Natalie experienced PP twice herself in 2003 and 2007, followed by another episode of illness in 2010 and was diagnosed as bipolar. After treatment in an acute psychiatric ward and fantastic care at the Birmingham Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) she knows how hard it is to settle back into everyday life. Initially life’s overwhelming when you come out of the MBU, simple things feel like you are learning them again for the first time. Planning for a baby when you are at risk if PP is really important too.


Soukaina Bennani - Peer Support Facilitator, Birmingham MBU & West

Soukaina joined APP to manage an innovative collaborative project with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. As a Peer Support Facilitator, she works to provide peer support to women, their partners and families in central Birmingham at the Mother and Baby Unit, as well as across the Sandwell and West Birmingham area.

Before joining APP, Soukaina was involved with children and adult education as well working as a Project Officer supporting adults with disadvantaged backgrounds. She experienced PP in 2010 after the birth of her child. This was followed by another episode of illness in 2016 when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

During her spare time she enjoys walking, listening to music and baking.


Jo Derry - Peer Support Facilitator, Black Country

Jo suffered with perinatal mental health while pregnant with her daughter in 2006 and went on to experience postpartum psychosis after her birth. There was not a great deal of awareness, information or understanding available at that time regarding PP and Jo struggled enormously with the stigma she and others attached to it. She felt very alone and incapable as a first time mum. Recovery seemed slow and difficult, involving help from family and friends, mother and baby groups, and lots of fresh air and over time she gradually recovered. She had a son in 2010 and was thankfully well after his birth.

With Covid and lockdowns affecting so many people with mental ill health, Jo decided that she wanted a change in career and to focus on helping people who are struggling with mental ill health. She used her experience and skills developed from many years working in Client and Relationship Management to retrain during lockdown and has now joined APP. She says ' I want to be able to help people who are suffering as I did. I just wish the help and awareness of today was available in my time of need and feel very privileged to now be in the position where I can help other women and families regarding this illness'.


Katy Willmont - Peer Support Sessional Worker, Birmingham (BSMHFT) project.

Katy suffered from postpartum psychosis nine years ago and since her recovery has worked in mental health.

Katy is a peer support worker on the Birmingham Mother and Baby Unit, is involved with the Birmingham APP team and attends café groups. Two years ago she also delivered multiple training sessions for APP to raise awareness in the West Midlands region.

Katy also works for Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust working with trainee Nursing Associates to link them with people with lived experience throughout their training. She gives talks about her experiences to mental health nursing students, trainee doctors, trainee psychiatrists, midwives, health visitors and GPs. She has a role with national MIND and is also a Mental Health First Aid instructor.


Sharon Bell - Peer Support Facilitator, Morpeth

Sharon manages APP's collaborative project with Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, providing peer support to inpatients at Beadnell Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) in Morpeth.

Sharon experienced PP a week after the birth of her first son, Thomas, in 1998. She spent three days on a general psychiatric ward before a place on an MBU became available where she stayed for 12 weeks.

Sharon says: "I experienced high then very low moods before stabilising, alongside a range of emotions from shame to hope. On leaving hospital I felt alone and still lacked confidence in myself as a mother and as a person. Slowly I started to rebuild, rediscovering the beauty and benefits of nature and enjoying walks together with my son. I went on to have 2 more children, Megan in 2000 and Finley in 2007, and remained well after their births, experiencing no perinatal ill-health.

I feel very privileged to be able to become involved with APP, to be able to use my lived experience of PP to give hope of recovery to others, having wished that the growing knowledge and understanding alongside vital services that exist today had been available earlier for me and my family."


Simon O'Mara  - Partner Peer Support Coordinator

Simon has volunteered with APP for many years, after experiencing the effects of postpartum psychosis from a partner’s view, when his wife had PP with their first child. He wanted to help raise awareness of PP but also to find ways to improve support for partners and families, who watch their loved ones go through PP and the effects that can have. Having shared his story, Simon has helped with partner information guides, going on to become a 1:1 peer supporter and has given talks from a partner’s perspective to healthcare professionals.

Having joined the APP team in June 2020, Simon is working on our partner’s peer support project, developing a forum for partners to find information, post a question, or simply chat with other partners who have lived experience.

If Simon gets a bit of spare time, you’ll probably find him on the mountain bike trails.


Chris  Guttridge - Partner Peer Support Worker

Chris experienced PP from the partner's perspective when his girlfriend gave birth to their son in 2013 and was admitted to Winchester Mother and Baby Unit. Chris says: "I can distinctly remember reading an APP leaflet about postpartum psychosis to try and understand what was happening. It took several years for me to recover from the effect these events had on me and my family and I've had a keen interest in mental health ever since.

In 2020 I accepted a role in the NHS to build a carers' peer support service within a perinatal community team, using my own experiences to help other partners and carers through their own journey of supporting someone with mental ill health.

Using my own experiences of PP to help others to learn and manage during such a challenging time is the most rewarding career I've ever had".


Shaheda Akhtar  - Peer Support Facilitator, BAME Engagement Project

Shaheda joined APP in July 2020 and is working to help APP understand how women from BAME backgrounds can be encouraged to access help and support. Shaheda has attended peer support training and hopes to be able to engage in peer support for BAME women, understanding their personal experiences, needs and any barriers to care. Shaheda's background is in Project and Programme Management and she has worked in the NHS for the last 7 years.

Shaheda experienced PP in December 2018 following the birth of her daughter and after a brief admission in a General Psychiatric ward was diagnosed and treated at the Birmingham MBU. She feels blessed to have made a swift recovery, returning to work and juggling this with being a new mum. Shaheda hopes to continue on her recovery journey helping others along the way.


Ines Beare - South Wales Project Coordinator

Ines joined APP in May 2019. Her main objective was to set up a cafe group in South Wales for women with PP. The first meeting took place in Newport in July 2019. Her aim is to provide support to women with PP on a monthly basis but also support and promote other projects such as helping to set up a MBU in Wales.

Ines suffered with PP after the birth of her daughter in 2006. As there was no MBU in Wales, she was admitted to a general psychiatric unit. Her recovery was slow with lack of support an expert advise and, after 2 manic episodes, she was diagnosed with bipolar in 2007. She has remained well since then and is determined to help women that have gone through the same experience.


Danielle Thomas  - South Wales Assistant Coordinator

Danielle joined APP in March 2019 as a volunteer and over the last year and a half has worked closely with Ines on the South Wales Project, attending café groups. She is delighted to be able to help offer support in the area where she lives. She is a mother of one and a hard-working midwife in a busy maternity unit. In her spare time she enjoys fun days out as a family, walking the dog and coffee dates with friends.

Danielle was unwell with PP when her daughter was 14 days old, following a particularly traumatic delivery. After initially being managed in a mixed-gender acute mental health ward for a few days, she was transferred to a Mother and Baby Unit in Winchester. Eight long months of postnatal depression followed, but on the right medication, through returning to work and with the love and support of her family, she was able to make a full recovery. She now looks out for women with mental health problems in her job to offer them the best help and support, signposting them and helping to reduce stigmas around these issues.


Amy Spruce - Peer Researcher (PAAM Study)

Amy has recently joined APP as a Peer Researcher; APP is collaborating on a research project examining the Accessibility and acceptability of perinatal mental health services for women from Ethnic Minority groups (PAAM).

Amy has experienced PP twice; in 2007 following the birth of son Lucas and in 2014 following the birth of her son Freddie. Amy was admitted to a Mother & Baby Unit on both occasions and attributes this, alongside the specialist support from the Community Perinatal Mental Health Team, as playing a fundamental part in her recovery.


 Kelly Ashcroft - Office Administrator and Fundraising Assistant

Kelly joined APP in September 2020, and helps to manage our busy virtual office.  She is also responsible for managing APP’s communications with fundraisers. Kelly has been an online peer supporter volunteer for APP since 2018.

Kelly experienced postpartum psychosis ‘out of the blue’ in 2006, a few months after the birth of her son Daniel, and spent time on a general psychiatric ward as well as three months on a Mother and Baby Unit. After the birth of her daughter Lucy in 2011, she stayed well and has had no recurrence of PP.

Kelly has a background in HR, recruitment and many years experience in administration. In her spare time she enjoys reading, walking, listening to music and spending time with family and friends.


 

TRUSTEES

 

DR GILES BERRISFORD

Dr Giles Berrisford is the lead clinician at the Birmingham Perinatal Mental Health Service and Chair of APP. The service supports women at risk of PP before conception, during pregnancy and during the first postpartum year. There is a well-established inpatient Mother and Baby Unit, a community team and strong links with obstetric services. His research interests centre around the use of psychotropic medication during pregnancy and the needs of partners during episodes of postnatal mental illness.

In April 2016 Giles was appointed Associate National Clinical Director for Mental Health (Perinatal) by NHS England. Giles is also the Deputy Medical Director (Workforce, Legal and Transformation) at Birmingham and Solihul Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.


Anna Jones - Trustee

Anna is an executive coaching consultant, providing in-house leadership, presenting and pitch training for corporations and is the Vice-Chair of APP. She suffered from an ‘out of the blue’ episode of postpartum psychosis in 2005 following the birth of her first child. Anna has been a volunteer for APP since 2010, she is a regional rep, a peer supporter, media volunteer and supports volunteers in giving Lived Experience talks. In 2014 she raised £11K for the charity by cycling from London to Brighton and in 2017 Anna helped to create a multi-disciplinary training programme for the NHS to raise awareness of APP and educate health professionals in best practice when treating women suffering from PP.

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Clare Dolman - Trustee

Clare is a freelance journalist who has had bipolar disorder since her early 20's. She experienced an episode of PP after the birth of her first daughter. She is the Vice-Chair of trustees for the national mental health charity Bipolar UK. She is the research editor of ‘Pendulum’ & is a Research champion for the BDRN. Clare is doing a PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry on decision-making regarding pregnancy in women with bipolar disorder. Click here to view her article about bipolar and childbirth.


Professor Ian Jones - Trustee

Ian is the former Chair of APP. He is a world-leading expert on postpartum psychosis. He is a Perinatal Psychiatrist & Reader in Perinatal Psychiatry. He leads a perinatal research group in the Department of Psychological Medicine at Cardiff University & works with Professor Nick Craddock investigating genetic factors involved in perinatal mood disorders & bipolar disorder. Ian is President of the UK and Ireland Marcé  Society (UKIMS) and in 2010 was awarded the Marcé Medal for his work on postpartum psychosis. Find out more about Ian’s researchpublications, and clinical work.


Sarah Hind - Trustee

Sarah is a freelance trust and statutory fundraiser.  Sarah has an interest in women's mental health with her own experience of dealing with pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder.  Sarah was formerly Fundraising & Communications Manager at Quaker Social Action.

 

 

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Abi Sampson - Trustee

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Annette Bower - Trustee

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EXPERT ADVISERS

 

PROFESSOR IAN JONES

Ian is the former Chair of APP. He is a world-leading expert on postpartum psychosis. He is a Perinatal Psychiatrist & Reader in Perinatal Psychiatry. He leads a perinatal research group in the Department of Psychological Medicine at Cardiff University & works with Professor Nick Craddock investigating genetic factors involved in perinatal mood disorders & bipolar disorder. Ian is President of the UK and Ireland Marcé  Society (UKIMS) and in 2010 was awarded the Marcé Medal for his work on postpartum psychosis. Find out more about Ian’s researchpublications, and clinical work.


DR GILES BERRISFORD

Dr Giles Berrisford is the lead clinician at the Birmingham Perinatal Mental Health Service and Chair of APP. The service supports women at risk of PP before conception, during pregnancy and during the first postpartum year. There is a well-established inpatient Mother and Baby Unit, a community team and strong links with obstetric services. His research interests centre around the use of psychotropic medication during pregnancy and the needs of partners during episodes of postnatal mental illness.

In April 2016 Giles was appointed Associate National Clinical Director for Mental Health (Perinatal) by NHS England.


MARK COX