All posts by APP

APP to continue hosting the Everyone’s Business Campaign 


We are pleased to announce that APP will continue to host the successful Everyone’s Business Campaign on behalf of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), following the award by Comic Relief of a grant of £750,000 for the next phase of the campaign.

The Everyone’s Business campaign calls for all women throughout the UK who experience perinatal mental health problems to receive the care they and their families need. The grant will enable the MMHA, supported by APP, to sustain and build on the momentum of the first phase of the campaign. A recent independent evaluation shows that over the past three years the Everyone’s Business Campaign has made a significant impact in six key areas, including enabling perinatal mental health to become a political priority and strengthening the case for improved perinatal health services. 

Dr Jess Heron, Director of APP says, ‘Action on Postpartum Psychosis is delighted to have been asked to continue hosting the Everyone’s Business Campaign. We have been pleased to play our part in the campaign’s success so far and very much look forward to working with MMHA to help deliver the next phase. The campaign is absolutely vital and has already had a real impact to women and families. Crucially, for families affected by Postpartum Psychosis, it is changing national consciousness of the importance of access to good maternal mental health care. There is still much more to do over the coming years and this would not be possible without Comic Relief’s support.’

Expanded Perinatal Mental Health Team Film Launch

Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust today released a great video to highlight the expansion of specialist psychiatric support for mothers who experience mental illness.

Two families share stories of recovery in the film, including a mum who experienced Postpartum Psychosis after the birth of her first child. She and her husband are now expecting again, having taken advice from the perinatal mental health team and put a care plan in place. Their story begins about 6 minutes in. 

Coronation Street Sarah Platt Storyline

Coronation-StreetThe character of Sarah Platt in Coronation Street is currently under psychiatric care in a Mother and Baby Unit having experienced psychotic episodes. On Monday 4th July she was diagnosed on screen with Postpartum Psychosis (PP).

It is good to see that Postpartum Psychosis is being tackled by the major soaps, and that the term is receiving wider use. For years, PP has been a silent mental illness. Many women and families affected by PP have not previously heard of it. They do not know: the signs and symptoms to watch out for; where to get help; or that they will recover. Many struggle to discuss their experiences with friends or other new mums, for fear of stigma, and because most of their friends have also not heard of it.

Unfortunately APP was not approached or consulted about this storyline. APP have requested that the programme list us on ITV’s Advice webpage, but the programme have stated that they cannot. MIND have told us that they will direct any enquires they receive to APP – to our website, email and peer support forum.

There is a concern being expressed by many of our members that the experience and symptoms the character Sarah Platt is portraying in the soap opera are not typical of PP, and not in line with their own experience of the illness.

Although PP can manifest in a wide variety of ways and it is hard to describe a ‘typical case’, it would be more usual for PP to begin in the first few days following childbirth, with women developing hallucinations, delusions, mania, depression, odd and erratic behaviour. It can get worse very quickly and should always be treated as a medical emergency. Most women need to be admitted to a Mother & Baby unit for treatment. To date, there has been little evidence that social or psychological factors play a major role in causing PP, for most women. Research suggests that a person’s genes may play a role, as well as sleep disruption, and the major hormonal and biological changes that occur around the time of birth.

PP affects people of all social classes, education levels, family backgrounds and cultures. PP can happen ‘out of the blue’ to women without previous experience of mental illness. There are some groups of women, women with a history of bipolar disorder for example, who are at much higher risk.

APP offers support to all women suffering from psychosis in the postpartum year. Whether an episode is triggered by childbirth or later in the postpartum year, many of the issues women need support with when ill and managing a baby will be the same. 

• Insider Guides - developed with the help of women who have experienced PP and their partners

• Peer Support – an online forum where you can talk to other women and partners that have ‘been there’

• 1:1 email support – we can connect you with a trained peer supporter – all of whom have recovered from PP

Connect with us on social media:
Twitter: @ActiononPP

Radio 4 Documentary: Unravelling Eve

We are very excited at APP that a Radio 4 documentary about the work we have been doing with Joan Malloy is to air next Monday, 5th December at 11:00 on BBC Radio 4. Here is how the program is described on the radio 4 website:Women who've suffered psychotic illness after childbirth talk about their journey back to recovery.

Between one in 500 and one in a thousand women suffer from postpartum psychosis after childbirth. It's an illness which often appears rapidly and without warning and leaves women in the grip of psychotic delusions or of mania. They talk of losing touch with reality and feeling split and fragmented. However, because it's comparatively rare and can happen to women with no history of mental illness, postpartum psychosis may go undiagnosed or be confused with post natal depression. In fact if it's treated properly, recovery from this very severe disorder can be very swift.

Now Radio 4 has been offered unique access to a group of women who have experienced the illness. They're taking part in an art project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, whose aim is to raise awareness of the condition.

As they meet at a workshop and in the artist Joan Molloy's studio they talk openly about what they went through, the hallucinations they suffered in the depths of the psychosis and their journey back to health. They also tackle the difficult topics of whether they wanted to harm themselves or their baby, the decision about whether to have a second child, and their perception of themselves as mothers.

The art project is supported by leading perinatal psychiatrist, Dr Ian Jones, who is working with teams in Cardiff and Birmingham universities to try to discover what it is about the physical experience of childbirth that triggers the illness. He tells us if they were able to establish whether some women had a genetic pre-disposition to the condition, it would be possible to predict which women were at high risk and to take the right steps before rather than after the illness has struck.

Presented by former journalist - Clare Dolman, who suffered an episode of postpartum psychosis herself after the birth of her first child twenty two years ago. She is a trustee of Action on Postpartum Psychosis and now works to raise awareness of the disorder.

Producer: Philippa Goodrich
A White Pebble Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Unravelling Eve - Stories of Postpartum Psychosis

APP are delighted to be working with artist Joan Malloy on this exciting Wellcome Trust funded arts project. Joan is developing a body of work which reflects upon issues of motherhood, inheritance and the familial implications of PP. A weekend workshop earlier this year allowed Joan to hear the experiences of a number of women from APP. The work is progressing well and has been the subject of a Radio 4 documentary that aired on December the 4th 2011. We are very excited about this project and look forward to sharing with you the work that is produced next year.

Joan’s past work has been an exploration of time, focussing on memories of childhood, family relationships and ageing, through a combination of photography, film, object-making and installation. Following years where her work has focused on family relationships – exploring shared experience from multiple perspectives – the work with APP will be a natural progression – exploring the shared experience of motherhood from the multiple perspectives of those who took part in the workshop. Joan’s intention is to create work which includes an arresting piece of film, which encapsulates the genetic science and values the personal narrative accounts from women from APP who have participated in the project.

MDF Bipolar National Conference, June 18 2011

APP again featured at the annual conference of MDF the Bipolar Organisation held in London.

Rachel Perkins OBE was among the speakers, and workshops will included a Q & A session on medication with MDF Bipolar Vice Chair Dr Nick Stafford, advice on benefits and allowances, and a discussion forum led by Professors Nick Craddock of BDRN and Steven Jones of the Spectrum Centre.

There was also be a workshop entitled Thinking about Motherhood: Bipolar, Pregnancy and Childbirth led by Dr Ian Jones, Reader in Perinatal Psychiatry at Cardiff University and Clare Dolman MDF Bipolar Chair of Trustees – both members of APP’s Board.

We were delighted to support MDF the Bipolar Organisation – the only national charity for people affected by this disorder – in the staging of their conference and really enjoyed a fascinating day – and a great chance to network!

A tribute to Gaynor Thomas

Gaynor believed in making a difference. She was a passionate advocate for research, believing that we must do everything we can to understand puerperal psychosis and bipolar disorder: the condition that finally took her life. She was a “Research Champion” for the Bipolar Disorder Research Network (BDRN) and advisor to Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) making an invaluable contribution to our work. Gaynor featured in the Stephen Fry documentary “The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive” discussing the difficult decisions that she and other women face when considering pregnancy. Although the documentary was unable to do justice to our complex discussions, she believed that it was important that the issues were raised. She believed in better services for women making difficult choices regarding pregnancy.

Last year we chaired a workshop at the national MDF conference on pregnancy and childbirth. The room was packed and the discussion heated but when Gaynor spoke about her experiences, everybody listened. Al- though she was very unwell after his birth, it was obvi- ous to me that she was a wonderful and devoted moth- er to Thomas. Her untimely death reminds us that this illness can be cruel and heartbreaking. She became a colleague and friend to us at APP and will be greatly missed.

Ian Jones on behalf of APP