All posts by Emma Harvey

Megan jumps for APP!

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Three Cheers for Megan who bravely completed her skydive in aid of APP on Saturday! Megan’s first jump scheduled for the beginning of June was postponed on the day due to poor weather conditions, but the sun shone brightly last Saturday, 30th June, for Megan’s jump to take place!

After Megan’s jump she posted up on the APP Facebook page about her experience, and said: “I DID IT! Absolutely 100% the best thing I’ve ever done in my life…I enjoyed it so much, I’m booked in for a second turn at 3pm (at my own expense!) Thanks to everyone who has sponsored me, you’ve really made a difference!

And for her second jump, she managed to persuade her sister and partner to join her! 

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Megan said: “It was absolutely amazing! If you’ve never done one I recommend that you do. I simply can’t put it into words how much of an experience it was. I’m so pleased at how much awareness we have raised as well, there are so many people who have sponsored me that simply didn’t know about PP before. I feel so proud of myself and my family!

Megan chose to jump in aid of APP after her sister suffered with Postpartum Psychosis in 2017, she said her sister ”was lucky enough to be given a place in a Mother and Baby Unit in Leeds where she could be looked after by a psychiatric team whilst remaining with Ethan. They were accompanied 24 hours a day to ensure their safety and it is charities like APP that help campaign for these wonderful services. Hayley has since benefited from other APP services such as the use of other women’s stories to help process what has happened to her. Without this support Hayley wouldn’t have made the progress she has made in such a short space of time. As a family also recovering from this traumatic time we have benefited from the resources APP provide.

APP are also very proud of you Megan, and congratulations on completely smashing your fundraising target too, amazing!

You can still donate to Megan’s JustGiving page here for the next couple of weeks.

Thank you once again to Megan for her wonderful support and heroic jump in aid of APP!

MIND READING: The Power of Personal Story

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Postpartum Psychosis has, for many years, been shrouded in shame and fear, silencing the women and families who have suffered it. This silence has an impact that reverberates through our community.

Postpartum Psychosis is as common as Downs, yet there has been limited research & public/professional awareness. It has been reported since the time of Hippocrates, and is a leading cause of maternal death, yet in the UK, services are only now beginning to adapt to meet the specific needs of this population. Lack of public awareness causes delays in identification, resulting in more severe, and difficult to treat episodes; increased risk to safety of mother/newborn; and greater harms to friendships and relationships. It impacts on recovery: causing isolation, shame, and reluctance to talk to others; making it hard to meet others with similar experiences; and hard to see examples of recovered, well functioning families. The impacts of this silence and shame, for some families, can last a lifetime.

APP set about changing this by: training and supporting media volunteers to tell their stories in public; supporting Regional Reps to tell their story to inform and deliver training to local health professionals; creating an active peer community to share personal stories, information, normalise the experience and begin to break down stigma; developing accessible co-produced information, making research and personal experience available to all. We helped to form the Maternal Mental Health Alliance to amplify the voice of affected women and families.

On June 19th, we had the chance to celebrate the power of personal story at Birmingham University’s Mind Reading 2018.

Jenny Pagdin, one of the presenters, explains more:

2018_Mind-Reading-conf-3In June, I had the privilege of reading and speaking at the Mind Reading conference with APP’s director Jess Heron, and with Sue McKendrick and Fiona Putnam, who both have lived experience of postpartum psychosis, as I do.

Sue and I read our poems about pregnancy, psychosis, depression, recovery and family life – Fiona read extracts from her personal story and performed an amazing rap on early motherhood and depression.

I wasn’t nervous beforehand because it felt like such an honour to be able to attend and share my experiences. This was my second experience of meeting other PP mums – the first time round I collapsed into tears of relief at meeting other ‘normal’ people with this strange experience. This time, I felt empowered, strong – and most importantly, helpful. We know from the lovely comments that our poetry and discussion entertained and educated the audience – a brilliant feeling.”

Sue McKendrick explained

Some of my poems were written as I tried to come to terms with and make sense of my personal experience of psychosis after the birth of my son in 2000- I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to read these aloud, let alone to such a receptive audience. It was an honour for my story to be shared alongside the very powerful and moving experiences of Jenny and Fiona.

When I became ill there were only two mother & baby hopsital places in Scotland (already taken) and limited relevant information. I am so pleased that APP is raising awareness and providing support to change the landscape for parents facing this traumatic illness.

In the early stages of recovery from postpartum psychosis, I joined a writing group at a psychiatric day centre; this was useful in rebuilding my confidence as initially I had struggled to write a single sentence. As I am a Medical Statistician by background, I had the idea of writing a book called “Method in my Madness” but this seemed a fantasy at the time (though I eventually managed to self publish a book of poems 16 years later). I wrote the following poem for the Mind Reading conference; I was thinking about healing after mental illness – what are the key ingredients for a good recovery?

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A Healing Sonnet by Sue McKendrick

The wound lies deep
but there’s no blood, no stitch,
no scab; it does not weep
or leave a lingering itch.

When trauma festers in the mind,
consuming your thoughts, twisting in knots,
what healing actions or words might we find?
There’s no cream or cloth to wipe away the blot.

This wound can’t be dressed to heal in days,
but slowly reconnects in a jigsaw compilation.
Cool your feet in sweeping waves.
Relax by a crackling fire. Seek your inspiration.

What words, whose words might refocus this daze?
The scent of lavender wafting in the Summer haze.

 

Dr Jess Heron, APP Director, said “It was a really interesting day. Fiona, Jenny and Sue took the audience through a powerful journey from birth to illness and recovery. Through poetry and story, they could engage with the health professional and academic audience on a fundamental level.

We had a chance to discuss the process of ‘writing for recovery’ and the benefits to one’s own recovery and to others. Postpartum Psychosis is a vivid, sensory, bizarre, confused and awful experience, occurring at a seminal time in a woman’s life. The process of capturing it, ordering it, giving it form and boundaries, removing it from a state of never-ending mental rehearsal and rumination can help in a person’s recovery. Once written, it can be shared and used for more positive ends to inspire, educate, generate understanding and acceptance. We have found in APP as well, that reading personal stories can be incredibly helpful to recovering women and families, enabling them to understand that they too will recover, to articulate difficult emotions, and to know that they are not the only person in the world to experience this horrible illness.

For APP, and the MMHA, importantly, personal stories also hold a magnificent power to affect and educate others, from the general public to health professionals, commissioners, and policy makers. Annihilating the stigma and silence around this illness is paramount, so the chance to speak at Mind Reading 2018 to such an interesting and receptive audience was really fantastic.”

Joe’s Triathlon challenge!

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A big Thank You to Joe Kettle who is aiming to complete his first ever triathlon on Saturday 21st July in aid of APP and Rethink Mental Illness!

Joe’s Triathlon takes place around the superb Dorney Lake in Windsor, and a former Olympic venue; it offers a fast, flat course with closed roads and ideal swimming conditions. The triathlon takes in a 400m swim, a 20k bike ride and a 5k run!

2018_JoeKettle2Joe says: “Most of you know I am very unfit, I haven’t ran for years and it’s been 3 years since my last fund raiser. On the 21st of July I am going to complete my very first Triathlon. I’ve not swam since a teenager and never really been a cyclist, so I’ve got to learn fast! But under pressure reveals true character and I believe with a strong mind anything is possible.

Please support Joe’s amazing challenge and donate via his Virgin Money Giving page here.

APP wishes Joe the very best of luck with this enormous challenge and hopes he has a fantastic day at Dorney Lake!

Thank you to Gillian and her daughters!

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Many thanks to Gillian and her daughter who successfully raised over £300 for APP and a local cancer hospice at their recent Craft and Cake sale in the Wirrall!

Gillian said: “For a long time my daughters Ishbel (7), Eryn (5) and Carys (4) have been very keen to do a charity cake sale after seeing one of their friends do one outside their house last year. So after Easter I decided we should give it a try and do a joint one for APP with my friend Michelle and her daughter Niamh (6). As they had a friend in the local cancer hospice we decided to make it a joint event with the money being split between the two charities.

We thought it would be good to do it at our local library who were very supportive and sat down with the children to discuss the details and set a date. After that the children made lots of cards and also handmade jewellery to sell and nearer the time baking cakes as well. We advertised with lots of posters and flyers. On the day we were quite overwhelmed with friends contributing and attending. My friend Michelle also received a phone call on the day of the sale from ASDA where she works to say they had seen her poster and would like to match the funding.

We were delighted to raise £350 which as a result of the matched funding can go to both APP and St John’s Hospice. Everyone enjoyed the day very much and are delighted it went so well.

It looks like everyone had a great day at the West Kirby Library last week!

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APP thanks Gillian and her daughter for their support and huge effort involved in putting on this event! 

Charity Gala supporting APP!

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Friends of Action on Postpartum Psychosis are holding a CHARITY GALA at Overseal Village Hall and Recreation Ground on Saturday 14th July.

With over 80 stalls featuring new, nearly new clothes for all ages, shoes, bric a brac, toys, gifts and bargains galore! Plus a Dog Show and more…

The Gala is taking place on Saturday 14th July at the Overseal Village Hall & Recreation Ground, Woodville Rd, Overseal, DE12 6LU, from 2.00 to 5.00pm, with entrance fee of £1.

APP would like to thank all the Friends of APP for their consistent and solid support.

We hope you have a fantastic (and sunny!) day on 14th July – thank you.

APP at the Wales PMH launch!

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APP Director, Dr Jess Heron, and APP Wales Volunteers Sally Wilson, Sarah Dearden, Charlotte Harding & Barbara Cunningham attended the launch of the NSPCC Cymru / Wales report Bumps to Babies: Perinatal Mental Health in Wales. The excellent report, written by Sarah Witcombe-Hayes and supported by NSPCC, National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH), Mind Cymru, Mental Health Foundation and Maternal Mental Health Everyone’s Business Campaign, examines the experience of women who suffer pre and postnatal illness in Wales. It makes a number of recommendations, adding weight to the findings in the report by the Welsh Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee (Perinatal Mental Health in Wales, October 2017 ).

Lynne Neagle, Assembly Member, chair of the committee and sponsor of the event, opened the launch by summarising the Welsh Assembly’s report and the future for perinatal mental health in Wales.

2018_Cardiff Sally Jones 2dSally followed with an eloquent and powerful talk about her personal experience of postpartum psychosis and the impact of lack of specialist services and a Mother and Baby Unit on her care and recovery. Sally talked about the fabulous parts of her care and the impact of some of the amazing people that supported her too. She called for: a Mother & Baby Unit in Wales; specialist services for those who need it; training in maternal mental health and postpartum psychosis for health professionals; and access to information and peer support for all. Sally left us – a room full of campaigners, MPs, health professionals, policy makers, and academic researchers – in no doubt about the difference these services would make for families in Wales. Sally volunteers for APP as a Postpartum Psychosis health professional trainer, peer supporter and regional rep.

Next up, Sarah outlined the key findings from the report which included barriers to identifying perinatal mental health problems, the progress of specialist perinatal mental health care in Wales, third sector provision in Wales, how we can support families affected by perinatal mental health problems, and highlighted a number of recommendations. A panel discussion included Professor Ian Jones (Trustee of APP & Director of NCMH), which centred on the great progress that has been made in Wales in the last few years and what the main priorities are in moving forward.

This was an important day for perinatal mental health campaigners in Wales. We raised a great deal of awareness of PP, distributed lots of PP information to health professionals, met some lovely women with personal experience who we hope to stay in touch with, and made important connections to begin to make a change for families in Wales.

APP would like to hear from anyone in Wales who has personal experience of PP and would like to join our Lived Experience network aiming to make changes for women and families affected by PP in the future. Email: app@app-network.org

APP seeks Peer Support Facilitator for Lancashire & Cumbria!

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APP is seeking a part-time peer support facilitator with lived experience of postpartum psychosis to support women in the new mother and baby unit in Chorley, and in the community in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

The Peer Support Facilitator position will be home-based  (with time in Ribblemere Mother & Baby Unit, Chorley and travel around the Lancashire and Cumbria regions), part-time (2.5 days a week) for a 24 month fixed term contract, with possible extension for a further 3 years.

APP is the national charity providing support and information to mums and families affected by Postpartum Psychosis (PP). PP is a severe form of postnatal mental illness that develops, often out of the blue, in the days and weeks following childbirth. APP works with women, families, academics and specialist clinicians to: raise awareness of PP; develop information; train health professionals; facilitate research; and run an award-winning specialist peer support service.

The Peer Support Facilitator will work within the Lancashire Perinatal Mental Health NHS team to support to women, partners and families affected by Postpartum Psychosis. If you have personal experience of Postpartum Psychosis and have excellent communication skills; sound knowledge of the principles of peer support; and experience of supporting others as a volunteer or worker, we would love to hear from you.

Please click here to find out more about this position and how to apply.

Anya & Vicky are trekking Cambodia!

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APP’s Media Advisor, Vicky, is taking on the incredible challenge of trekking Cambodia, alongside her good friend Anya, in aid of APP! Vicky and Anya have chosen different charities but hope together to raise thousands, so have set a minimum target of £1500 each.

Anya and Vicky are doing their ‘Centenary Challenge‘ with Trek Cambodia, who say ‘The amazing trekking challenge takes in the stunning jungles and traditional Cambodian villages, finishing at the spectacular ancient ruins of Angkor Wat. Along the way there will be the opportunity to visit a local school and they will spend one very special night with a local family for a home stay.  The challenge will be tough but the friendship and camaraderie along the way will be very special.’

Vicky says ‘Please donate whatever you can, every penny makes a difference (and will help keep us motivated as we trek through jungles, cross rivers, battle mosquitos and aching limbs as we trek Cambodia).’

Visit Vicky’s Just Giving page here and please donate what you can.

APP wish Vicky and Anya all the best with their training and trekking adventure, and say a very big Thank You!

The Self Care Unicorn at Guys & St Thomas’!

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A big round of applause to the two Laura’s at Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust for organising such a brilliant event on Monday 15th May to raise awareness about mental health with donations in aid of APP

As part of Mental Health Awareness week, the staff in women’s services at Guys & St Thomas’ could take home an amazing ‘Self-Care Goodie Bag’ in return for a suggested donation to charity. The goodie bags included, amongst other gifts and APP leaflets, some gorgeous donated gifts from LUSH, alongside mouth-watering cakes from Print Cakes!

Laura said: “I automatically thought of APP, especially after Ellie and Kat have kindly volunteered their time to assist with our training…Our communications team will be sharing photos from the day on social media and thought again we could share APP love this way.

And there were indeed some brilliant photos from the day (see below) with some very happy faces from the staff at Guys & St Thomas’!

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Laura Costello has since been nominated for an #NHS70 award for the Self Care bags – what a fantastic achievement – vote for Laura here!

And you can still donate via the Go Fund Me page here - thank you.

Thank you so much to everyone involved in organising the day, and for all the hard work involved pulling it all together, we know it takes a lot of time and energy, so a very big THANK YOU from us all at APP!

Gillian’s Charity Cake & Craft Sale in the Wirral!

Huge thanks to Gillian and her daughter, who are busy organising a Charity Cake and Craft Sale on Saturday 16th June, at the West Kirby Library the Concourse in Wirral!

There will be plenty of delicious cakes on sale, as well as a host of craft stalls including calligraphy and watercolour artwork cards and jewellery making! The event will also feature Story Telling sessions with the local writers group, and lots of second hand books for sale as well.

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We think this sounds like a really brilliant event, and we hope it’s a great day out for everyone! Thanks to Gillian and everyone who is helping to support this fantastic event.