All posts by Jess Heron

National Lottery Awards Update - Weds 29th July


Well here it is – the final update.

Unsurprisingly it’s been the busiest week of the campaign. It’s also been the wettest. Volunteers braved the downpours and over 500 people voted for APP at the Sheldon Countryside Festival, where the team also received support from the Lord Mayor of Birmingham. 130 people voted at Sacred Heart and Holy Souls church and families also voted at holiday events organised by the Pavilion Church at Bournville and at indoor play centres Tiny Terrorz and Funatticz.

Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our members we have had media coverage in the Londonist, the Yorkshire Post, the Birmingham Mail, and articles in the Exeter Express and Echo and the Sidmouth Herald (repeated in the Midweek Herald).

Social media has been remarkable. Just in the past week (to yesterday) our content has reached over 1.07 million individual Twitter accounts, with 2.7 million impressions (the total number of tweets that have appeared). The figures for the week before were 320k accounts and 642k impressions. The most retweeted was a tweet from the NSPCC and we’ve had more help from Denise Welch as well as tweets from Britmums and lots of Twitter activity around the Londonist piece.

Voting is open until midnight. Remember that everyone in your household can vote with their own email address or phone number.

We have done our very best and, win or lose, have made a massive step forward in raising awareness. When voting has finished and we’ve all had a chance to have a sit down and/or a meal without a laptop, phone, voting forms or leaflets in hand, we will be getting together to have a look over all that has been achieved in the past five weeks. Our task then will be to work out how best to build on the incredible work everyone has done. Thank you all.


National Lottery Awards Update - Weds 22nd July


We’ve come a long way but we really need a final push. APP’s volunteers, supporters and friends have been doing an amazing job. We’re tired, our fridges are empty and our laundry baskets are full, but we know that we’re making a difference, not just by getting votes but by reaching large numbers of people who’d never heard about PP before and increasing the understanding of maternal mental health issues.

On TV we’ve seen postpartum psychosis feature on the Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC Two on Monday, on Channel 4 news also on Monday and on ITV news on Tuesday (the news pieces in response to Healthwatch England’s report on unsafe discharge from hospital).

It’s been a busy week on Twitter - the NSPCC mentioned us to their 167k Twitter followers and we’ve had tweets and retweets from the Heart of England NHS Trust, Prof Louis Appleby, MGC Hayles, Mental Healthy, Mental Elf, and Love Brum. Many of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance organisations have also tweeted. Our first 50 tweets this week are at 48075 impressions, and still counting (as it goes Friday to Friday). Our #endPPmyths video was the main story in the Postpartum Post. Organisations who’ve supported us include the Institute of Health Visitors, PIP UK, PSI, Praeclarus Press, PNP Support New Zealand, National Centre for Mental Health and APPAH.

We’ve also been going out and about. We got a really positive response at the Good Hope Hospital Community Fete on Saturday. And a supporter simply knocked on doors around his local area and asked people to vote – and collected 250 votes! Amazing!

With a week to go please think what else you can do to help. Please share the message with friends, contacts, and colleagues and please email, tweet large organisations and post the link to vote on large and influential Facebook groups. Check your friends HAVE actually voted (not just said they WOULD!). Take a few paper voting forms and drum up face to face votes at whatever you’re going to – big family BBQ, village fete, car boot… We can send you forms (and official APP T shirts to wear!). We will be at Sheldon Countryside Festival on Sunday so come and say hello if you are there.

A week today will be the final campaign update. We need a sprint to the finish line – and to know we have done all we can.

A few words from women who have experienced Postpartum Psychosis


National Lottery Awards Update – Weds 15th July

Three weeks down – two to go

We’re past halfway, and it feels like we are at a critical point. We’ve had re-tweets from Home-Start UK, Solihull Police, lots of Birmingham-based MPs and TV presenter (and mum) Professor Alice Roberts. And auctioneers Sotheby’s have asked all their staff to vote for us!

We’ve also had some unhelpful responses from a variety of organisations, from online sites for parents, to publications for GPs – who typically say ‘we have information on postnatal depression, so we don’t need it on postpartum psychosis’. To which we say – yes you do need it. It is so important that families and GPs are properly informed about maternal mental health.

Next week there should be some press coverage and a tiny bit of TV featuring APP. Monday’s episode of ‘Victoria Derbyshire’ on BBC Two/BBC News Channel 9.15 to 11am is all about mental health. Keep an eye on our social media for more info on our media coverage.

Please continue your support. Anyone you know you’ve not asked to vote yet – please ask! Do you work for an organisation with a large mailing list or a high circulation newsletter which could put something about voting for us in it? Please ask them. Might you take one of our ‘voting by paper’ forms along to your choir practice, sports team training or work coffee room? Do you have relatives overseas you could ask to vote (votes from abroad still count!). We need more votes and everyone voting is someone who may find out about PP who had never heard of it before – and that can only be a good thing.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who are working so hard to achieve all we can before the 29th!

National Lottery Awards Update – Weds 8th July

Two weeks down – three to go

Work has continued apace to get the word out about the National Lottery Awards – and to get people voting! We’ve added another 500 likes on our Facebook voting page (and are now at 2400) and added 100 new likes on our Action on Postpartum Psychosis main Facebook page. Writer Jodi Picoult retweeted to 111 000 followers, and we had a retweet and support from Norman Lamb. We’ve had support from the South West Strategic Clinical Network and Postpartum Support International. We were mentioned in an article in the Telegraph online yesterday highlighting the need for better mental health services for women in pregnancy and after birth. We’ve also managed a huge mailout to 450 members, sending them our guides, information about our services and a letter about our lottery nomination, with voting information. Special thanks to volunteers who spent a very hot couple of days in the APP office stuffing envelopes.

Thank you to all the individuals working so hard – too many to name here – let’s keep on going.

National Lottery Awards Update - Weds 1st July

One week down – four weeks to go!

We’ve made an amazing start to the opportunity given to us by the National Lottery Awards by being nominated to become Health Project of the Year. In the first week of voting we’ve had 1.9 thousand Facebook likes registered on our National Lottery voting page, and been mentioned on Twitter by Ruby Wax, Fern Britton, Denise Welch and Marian Keys. We’ve had support from organisations such as The Marce Society, Bipolar UK, Time To Change, and the Royal College of Midwives. Organisations have tweeted directly to around 187,500 followers, and there are nearly 44,000 followers of organisations who have retweeted our tweets. And in the middle of a very busy week we had a wonderful Family Fun Day where families and friends got together to enjoy a fabulous picnic, play games, chat, raise money for APP and meet others to share experiences of and interests in postpartum psychosis. Oh and of course to vote!

Well done and thank you everyone for a tremendous start – let’s keep up this momentum over the next four weeks.

Make a difference in mental health - vote for Action on Postpartum Psychosis in the National Lottery Awards!

BBC Radio 4 'Unravelling Eve' Update

Following the airing of ‘Unravelling Eve’ program on BBC Radio 4, the feedback we have received has been tremendous. The program was extremely well received by people from all backgrounds and interests and many have been in touch expressing their gratitude to everyone involved for their time and efforts in making it happen.

The women who took part in the workshops also received a great deal of positive and supportive feedback from friends and family. Having listened to the program, they now have a greater understanding of the challenges the women went through, and some friends were surprised by how little they already knew. We are very grateful to everyone who took part and appreciate how difficult and emotional it can be to speak about things they have probably never spoken about before. There was an instant rapport amongst the women and very quickly strong friendships formed. They all reported that taking part was a fabulous opportunity to finally meet and chat freely with others who instantly understood. They described the workshops as an extremely positive experience, emotional yet healing and cathartic.  The program is available to listen to by Clicking here.

Cardiff Half Marathon

Congratulations to Steph Brackpool and Mark Cox (Ward Manager of the MBU at Birmingham) for completing the Cardiff Half Marathon on behalf of APP. Steph hit 60 years old in January this year and has not done a competitive run before. This was Mark's first run too. Steph's and Mark's fundraising sites at Virginmoneygiving will remain open for another month. So far they have raised over £1200 for APP. Steph writes about her experience here. If you would like to join the APP running team and help to raise money for APP get in touch with Heather, Sue or Nicola at

Perinatal Mental Health Conference

The BSMHFT Perinatal Mental Health Research Conference in collaboration with Action on Postpartum Psychosis and the Marce Society will take place on July 8th 2011 at the Birmingham Medical Institute. All are welcome! Speakers include: Professor John Cox (identifying postnatal depression), Dr Margaret Oates (the most recent Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths); Dr Ian Jones (postpartum psychosis); Dr Carol Henshaw (normal emotional changes following pregnancy); Dr Dawn Edge (considering BME issues); Dr Jess Heron (Mother and Baby Units), Dr Amanda Daley (exercise and PND); Dr Jo McCleery (infant health), Sukhi Sembi (peer support), and many more. Places are limited, so book asap to reserve a place. For further information and a booking form, contact:

Roundup of APP news 2010

Early in 2010 we set about applying for formal charitable status to help us raise money for research into PP and APP projects. We are nearly at the finish post, and will have a charity number in early 2011. We thank Heather and Sue for their dogged determination with the process and paperwork. We now have a formal structure with a steering committee, chair, vice chair, secretary, and treasurer.

Until now, Ian and I have answered emails from members in an ad hoc way. Over the next year, Nicola Muckelroy will be setting up a Peer Support Network using trained volunteers who have recovered from PP themselves. Initially they will offer support to women and their families via email. People should telephone the Cardiff office to join APP, for information about peer support, or for signposting to resources and sources of advice.

In terms of research, we have had an exciting year. Our molecular genetic work is producing interesting findings, including overlaps with another pregnancy related condition, pre- eclampsia. Ian explains more about these exciting findings on the research page. We have produced the first piece of formal evidence from our postnatal care survey that Mother and Baby Units are more appropriate than general psychiatric units for women with illness following childbirth. We are also leading the way in terms of 'service-user' research, with a publication due out next year and presented at UK and international conferences.

Plans for 2011 include a postal survey and telephone interview study of the experiences and support needs of partners during an episode of PP. A media training workshop is planned offering women who wish to raise awareness of PP the chance to practise with real equipment and experienced trainers. Rachel’s study on changes in identity after PP will be complete next year. A study of second pregnancies is recruiting women who are pregnant or planning pregnancy, and, of course, our large scale studies of the causes and genetics of PP will continue to produce exciting results.

Spreading the word by Clare Dolman

APP was represented at several conferences in 2010, both nationally and internationally. We started off in London in March at the Mental Health Research Network’s (MHRN) Service Users’ Annual Conference. Delegates at the day-long event visited the APP display and took newsletters away with them to spread the word about our new website. Even more people did the same at the two-day Scientific Conference of the MHRN in April which was held at Bristol.

In June we had a whole team attending the annual Conference of MDF the Bipolar Organisation held at Birmingham University’s Medical School. Because of the high risk of postpartum psychosis for women with bipolar, our stand attracted a great deal of interest from women and their partners eager to find out about the risks and the best way to cope with them.

In the Autumn, we ventured further afield to Pittsburgh, USA, for the Biennial International Conference of the Marcé Society. The Society was named after Louis Victor Marcé, a French psychiatrist who wrote the first treatise entirely devoted to perinatal mental illness, published in 1858. Its principal aim is to promote, facilitate and communicate about research into all aspects of the mental health of women, their infants and partners around the time of childbirth. With hundreds of delegates from all over the world attending, this was a great platform to tell people about APP and make them aware of our resources for women who have suffered postpartum psychosis – and for health workers who need to learn more about the condition.

I gave a presentation telling delegates about the work on recovery that members of APP produced with Dr Jess Heron and a team of researchers in Birmingham last year. Dr Jess Heron gave a presentation about ‘Women's satisfaction with Mother and Baby Unit care versus other models of postpartum psychiatric care’. Dr Jones gave a keynote speech about new research into Postpartum Psychosis. There was a lot of interest, especially from American colleagues, in the potential of the APP website as a source of support and information for women in this situation wherever they live in the world. APP got another mention on the main stage when Dr. Ian Jones accepted the Marcé Medal for his outstanding contribution to perinatal psychiatric research.

We are extremely grateful to the Mental Health Research Network Heart of England Hub for providing a small grant to enable women with experience of PP to attend and present research at UK and International conferences.