All posts by Jessie Hunt

Highlights: International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health Conference

Members of the Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) team, including staff, trustees and ambassadors, spoke to a global audience of expert researchers, clinicians and women and families with lived experience as part of the International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health Conference. 

Here are some of the highlights from the social media conversation taking place during the conference #Marce22.

Hannah Bissett (APP National NHS Contracts Coordinator), Dr Clare Dolman (APP trustee, Co-chair of the Bipolar Commission and Ambassador Bipolar UK, Trustee Maternal Mental Health Alliance), Laura Dockrill (APP Ambassador), Dr Sally Wilson (APP National Training and Research Coordinator) and Dr Jess Heron (APP CEO) at the International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health Conference, 2022.

The conference took place between Monday 19th and Friday 23rd September and welcomed leading experts in perinatal mental health from institutions and organisations around the world. The Society is led by a board of experts including APP’s very own trustee, Professor Ian Jones, who also served as the conference’s co-chair.

One of the key aims of this year’s conference was to highlight the UK’s best practice in lived experience involvement, and encourage this trend internationally. The conference events took place both in London and virtually.

Having the opportunity to speak at such an event enabled us to share best practice and stimulate conversation specifically around postpartum psychosis (PP), raising awareness of the illness, as well as our campaign asks, amongst a much wider pool of academics and health professionals. The more researchers and professionals talking about postpartum psychosis, the more collective power we have to build knowledge, effect change, challenge stigma and improve services for women and families affected.

Dr Jess Heron, CEO of APP, said “We are delighted to be attending conferences face to face again, to continue raising the profile of postpartum psychosis in the perinatal research community. We shared our research showing: that care for PP has improved considerably in 10 years; that women admitted to MBUs have better outcomes than those separated from their baby in General Psychiatric Units; that peer support is essential and life-saving during recovery; and the impact of our co-produced and co-delivered health professional training on clinical practice, empathy and knowledge. The week long academic conference is a valuable opportunity for us to hear from world leading experts about their cutting edge work. The voices and values of the Third Sector and lived experience play an important role in academic conferences, helping translate the evidence base into practice, reducing stigma, and influencing research of importance to women and families."

Hannah Bissett, APP National NHS Contracts Coordinator, said: "As a lived experience speaker, I attended Marcé to talk about what women and families need from perinatal services. Hearing the expert speakers that day in other talks, including describing experiences of PP in India and Malawi was very moving and inspiring. Whilst I do not have a research background or clinical training, Marcé welcoming lived experience speakers was an important step in sharing our voices. The virtual conference also had a wealth of streamed content and representing our peer support team sharing an evaluation of our projects in the APP symposium was a huge privilege - I'm not sure if an in-person session or virtual talk is most nerve-wracking! I hope to attend Marcé again in the future and reconnect with some of the wonderful people we met from the ‘perinatal family’."

The two sessions APP was involved with or leading were:

What do women and families need from perinatal mental health services?

This session was chaired by Dr Clare Dolman (APP trustee) and featured our brilliant ambassador Laura Dockrill, who powerfully and beautifully shared her personal experience of PP, as well as our National NHS Contracts Coordinator, Hannah Bissett, speaking about the value of peer support in perinatal services. They were joined by Dr Henry Fay on video– a former GP with experience of PP as a partner, and trustee of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance.

Laura Dockrill (APP Ambassador), Hannah Bissett (APP National NHS Contracts Coordinator) and Dr Clare Dolman (APP trustee, Co-chair of the Bipolar Commission and Ambassador Bipolar UK, Trustee Maternal Mental Health Alliance).

Postpartum psychosis: strategies and collaborations to increase knowledge, address stigma and improve care globally

This session was chaired by our CEO Dr Jess Heron and featured discussion from Hannah Bissett as well as Dr Sally Wilson, APP’s National Training and Research Coordinator. The APP team presented evaluations of some of APP’s projects including: APP’s health professional training in PP; peer support services; the ongoing campaign for Mother & Baby Units; and outlined the way care for PP has changed over the past 10 years. The discussion focused on the impact evaluation of each project, exploring the ingredients for lasting impact, lessons learned, and how this learning might be used to influence care for women and families affected by PP globally.

About the International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health

The International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health was formed at an international conference in 1980. The purpose of that conference was to bring together different strands of research in puerperal mental disorders. It was recognised that there needed to be a forum to discuss puerperal mental illness in its broadest sense, and as such the Society was formed. The Society was named after Louis Victor Marcé, a French psychiatrist who wrote the first treatise entirely devoted to puerperal mental illness, published in 1858.

Other notable sessions at this year’s conference included Postpartum Psychosis: Cross-cultural conceptualisation in Malawi, India and the UK; Advances in the Pharmacology of Mood Disorders during Pregnancy; Offspring of parents with Psychosis: Pre-postnatal indicators of risk and resilience; Consensus and Controversies in the classification of Postpartum Psychosis in DSM-V; Prophylactic medication in pregnant women with bipolar disorder; as well as a session focused on fathers’ mental health: Fathers’ Perinatal Experiences, Mental Health and Impact on Family Health.

Kathryn Grant (APP Volunteer) sharing her lived experience for the session ‘Prophylactic medication in pregnant women with bipolar disorder’

Find out more about the conference here

To join the APP network and sign up to our newsletter click here

 

'Pom-ti pom pom!', a mindful crafting session on Thursday 30th June, 7.30pm-9pm

You are invited to join 'Pom-ti pom pom!', a mindful crafting session on Thursday 30th June, 7.30pm-9pm.

This friendly workshop will take place virtually over Zoom, led by APP volunteer Claire Griffiths. Join us and learn the really handy and satisfying technique of how to create lots of gorgeous fluffy pompoms in one go!

Find out more and reserve your free place: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/app-workshop-pom-ti-pom-pom-tickets-348112001367

Claire says: "I suffered from Postpartum psychosis (PP) in 2016 following the birth of my daughter, I work part-time as a crafts facilitator and throughout the pandemic delivered crafts workshops to people isolated at home via zoom.

I find crafting to be the perfect mindful activity to get some time for myself away from the bustle and stress of family life and I found making things to be a helpful part of my recovery from PP early on. I love to share these skills with other people and I love the idea of sharing them and spending some time virtually crafting together with other mums who've suffered PP.

Pom-poms are such a joyful little thing to create and you will be able to make many using the technique I am going to share; you can then make them into anything you please!"

Dads chat webinar, 12.30-1.30pm, Friday 17th June 2022

 

APP Dads chat webinar
12.30-1.30pm, Friday 17th June

Join us for a lunchtime chat about postpartum psychosis and dads' mental health with:

  • Simon O'Mara, APP Partner peer support coordinator
  • Hugo White, APP Ambassador
  • Professor Ian Jones, a world-leading expert on postpartum psychosis
  • Mark Williams, organiser of International Fathers’ Mental Health Day
  • Guest hosted by Kieran Anders from Dad Matters

Free, book ahead or just drop in: https://APPdadschat.eventbrite.com

This session will be recorded. Register for the event and we will email the recording afterwards.

...

In partnership with

International Fathers’ Mental Health Day

Dad Matters

Action on Postpartum Psychosis statement: tragic news of Orlaith Quinn in Northern Ireland

We are deeply saddened by the tragic news about Orlaith Quinn in Northern Ireland. Our thoughts are with Orlaith’s family at this awful time. Our peer supporters are here for family members and anyone else who has been affected by postpartum psychosis.

Orlaith Quinn

Postpartum psychosis affects 1-2 in every thousand women who give birth in the UK. It should always be treated as a medical emergency and the recommended care involves immediate access to a specialist Mother and Baby Unit - of which there are currently none in Northern Ireland.

Sadly, there still isn’t enough awareness of postpartum psychosis - not only amongst the general public, but also amongst health professionals. This needs to change. Around half of women who experience postpartum psychosis have experienced no prior mental illness. Spotting the signs can be life-saving.

Action on Postpartum Psychosis works with health professionals to provide short training sessions that can significantly impact early diagnosis - helping professionals know when, where and how to signpost to specialist services. We also have a wealth of information available online to anyone who needs to find out more about the illness and its symptoms.

If postpartum psychosis is diagnosed quickly and treated appropriately, women make a full recovery from this severe and life-threatening illness.

Our trained peer supporters are here if you’d like to talk to someone. Find out about Action on Postpartum Psychosis peer support or contact us at app@app-network.org.

Find out about Action on Postpartum Psychosis training for health professionals.

Read about Action on Postpartum Psychosis research and campaigns.

It’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week – here’s how to get involved

2nd – 8th May marks Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week and APP is keen to get as many people involved as possible!

Awareness weeks like this are a brilliant opportunity to get more people talking about postpartum psychosis (and the signs and symptoms to look out for), and to ensure that anyone affected doesn’t feel alone and knows where they can turn to for help and support.

As such, we’ll be sharing personal stories, signposting people to support, information and advice and launching our new antenatal education campaign. We’re also going to be expanding our café groups in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – so keep your eyes peeled for more on that too!

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week

In addition to Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, organised by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, there will be a focused World Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day (Wed 4th May) and Pregnancy and Postpartum Psychosis Awareness Day (Fri 6th May).

How to get involved

During the week, there will be focused topic days and activities that you can get involved with by sharing our social media posts and web links to help reach more people. We’d also love to hear your stories and thoughts too – so please do tag us in anything you’re writing about online.

The theme for the full week is The Power of Connection – so we’re keen to hear about your experiences of peer support and how friends and family have helped you.

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week daily themes

Take part in free events

You can also take part in some FREE events that APP is proud to support including:

Understanding postpartum psychosis webinar

Thursday 5th May, 12pm: Understanding Psychosis

Join the National Centre for Mental Health in partnership with Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) and the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership to hear from researchers and the expert voices of those with lived experience of postpartum psychosis.

To book your free place, click here

Pregnancy and postpartum psychosis Awareness Day

Friday 6th May, 2pm BST: Author Panel

Join a conversation with authors with lived experience of postpartum psychosis. Hosted by Jessie Hunt, APP Marketing and Digital Communications Co-ordinator.

To book your free place, click here

Friday 6th May, 4pm BST: Pregnancy and Postpartum Psychosis Resources and Research Update

Learn about resources for women who are experiencing Pregnancy and Postpartum psychosis and their families. With guest speaker Dr Sally Wilson, APP Training and Research Co-ordinator.

To book your free place, click here

Friday 6th May, 7.45-8.30pm BST: Free online yoga session with Jo

Enjoy a mindful yoga session with Jo, a qualified yoga teacher and APP volunteer. You will need a yoga mat or non-slippy floor to practise on.

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87537901587?pwd=UHRxNDFFNTA2Z3lHMTlqVXROamUrZz09

Meeting ID: 875 3790 1587
Passcode: 685471

...

Disclaimer from Jo: I believe that yoga is for everyone. However, when you’re practising via an online class, it is up to you to assess whether the class is suitable for you. If you’re injured, ill or have any long-term conditions you should always consult a doctor before you start practising yoga. Unfortunately, this class is not suitable if you are pregnant. It is up to you to gauge the safety of your practise and to never exceed your own limitations. I would ask you to practise slowly and in a considered way, and never rush into anything new - move mindfully and always listen to your body to take what you need from the practise. The practise might leave you feeling tired but you should never be in pain. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't, so please back out of the posture and take a break if you need to. By clicking on the link to join the Zoom class you hereby agree to irrevocably release and waive any claims that you have now, or hereafter may have, against Joanne Bushell, 'Yoga with Jo.'
yogawithjo.net

Follow @ActionOnPP

Make sure you follow APP’s social media accounts throughout the week to get involved:

Twitter: @ActionOnPP

Instagram: @ActionOnPP

Facebook: Action on Postpartum Psychosis

#ThePowerOfConnection

#MaternalMHMatters

#PPPAwarenessDay

POETRY: In to the Deep By Susan

Susan experienced postpartum psychosis in 2006. Here she shares her poem, 16 years on.


In to the Deep

From a rush with euphoria
Feeling on top of the world
To the sensation of exhaustion
Fear of falling to the ground.

The shower in the morning
Helped to make me aware
To feed, bath and love my baby
With much loving care.

The following weeks I carried on
Getting dressed everyday
It makes you feel better
Or so they say

I continued to do everything
As I thought I should
Hanging out the washing
Feeling reenergised
Thinking I was doing good.

No groups to join,
few visits from friends
Only when my midwife visited
She noticed I was drained.

I was starting to spiral
in to the deep.
I was running on empty
Suddenly unable to sleep.

I thought I could accomplish
Anything when I became Mum,
Within a couple of months
I began to feel numb.

Forget previous feelings,
Natural instincts I had,
Could not remember anything
Feeling I was going mad.

This itself was frightening
Not knowing who I was anymore
If I would get back to where I was
And who I was before.

Lack of sleep and eats
Plummeted me into despair
Catatonic some days
Not knowing if I was there

Being told I was getting better
Feeling like shouting out I am getting worse
But could not get the words out
I am here, I am not right, am I cursed?

Lack of understanding from all of those around
Caused more distress and isolation
As I felt this was my life
And I was not to be found

Fearing institutions and staff
throwing away the key
Thinking everyone else
would be better off without me.

Soon I did discover
That help was there for me.
Experts in their fields providing
Care for baby and thee.

As treatment started to work
And I started recovery,
Looking after myself first,
Allows me to look after my family.

Look after yourself, be good and kind.
Having an insight helps to maintain a healthy mind.

Theatre: ‘after birth’ is returning to the stage for a UK tour

‘after birth’ is a dark comedy deeply rooted in the testimonials of women who have experienced postpartum psychosis. Read on for dates and a review.

"A powerhouse story told with clarity, wit and integrity"
Daily Information

"At the centre of my play is Ann – razor-witted and indomitable – her character is rooted in the funny, resilient women who fearlessly shared their recovery stories with me"
Zena Forster

Dates and tickets

LONDON, Omnibus Theatre 22 - 26 February 2022. Book tickets. 
NORWICH, The Garage - 11 March 2022. Book tickets.
GRAVESEND, The Woodville - 16 March 2022. Book tickets. 
WOLVERHAMPTON, Arena Theatre - 18 March 2022. Book tickets. 
LYME REGIS, Marine Theatre - 24 March 2022. Book tickets.

Please note, the performances on the 15th March 2022 and 23rd March 2022 are closed performances for invited guests.

Watch the trailer

‘after birth’ review

In June 2021, two members of the APP team, Ellie and Jessie, and one of APP’s volunteers, went to see ‘after birth’ at the North Wall theatre, Oxford. ‘After birth’ is set in a Mother and Baby Unit: the main character, Ann, has a bipolar diagnosis and is experiencing postpartum psychosis.

Ellie writes: "‘After birth’ has been written by Zena Forster who worked with APP as part of her research, speaking to several members of APP staff and volunteers with lived experience. The play follows Ann in her experience of postpartum psychosis, and the action we witness on stage is through her eyes, starting in the middle of her paranoid and scary psychotic episode. It depicts her slow journey to recovery, her growing trust of the professionals helping her, her relationships with her mother and partner, and the grief and trauma she experiences. The play also shows her relationship with another patient in the unit, showing the importance of the connection between the two women with lived experience.

As we all know, the impact of experiencing postpartum psychosis is wide reaching and complex and affects so many parts of a person’s life – their self-esteem and well-being, identity, creativity, relationships, relationship with their baby and feelings about becoming a mother. Zena managed to weave all of this complexity, and more, into the play, at the same time creating a believable, likeable, and rounded character at its heart, who we were rooting and feeling for. The fact the audience was with Ann throughout her whole experience of PP and seeing everything through her eyes, meant that the play was a powerful tool for helping the audience to really understand, connect and empathise with the experience of postpartum psychosis, and to truly feel and understand what women go through.

‘after birth’ will tour in 2022, and we highly recommend that you take the opportunity to go and see it when it does. We found it a powerful, accurate and stigma-busting portrayal of PP.”

'after birth' grew out of a collaboration between playwright Zena Forster and researchers at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit  (NPEU), Oxford University.

Find out more and book tickets here: https://linktr.ee/afterbirth2022

Get in touch with APP

If you would like to talk to the APP team about ‘after birth’, please email app@app-network.org 

 

New report commissioned by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance

A new report commissioned by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance shows that investing in training for midwives and health visitors, and recruiting more specialist perinatal mental health midwives and health visitors could save the NHS up to £52 million over the next 10 years by ensuring that women receive timely support. This investment could also improve the quality of life for women and their families with an estimated £437 million saving over 10 years on costs to society such as loss of employment due to poor mental health.

Luciana Berger, Chair of the MMHA, says: "It is vital that we make it easier for pregnant women and new mums to access mental health support during routine contacts with their midwives and health visitors."

Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive of Centre for Mental Health, says: "Supporting midwives and health visitors with the training and time to meet women’s mental health needs is a sound investment that could make a difference to many thousands of women and their families.”

At APP, we know how critical the role of midwives and health visitors can be in identifying postpartum psychosis and ensuring that women receive the support they need.

APP have delivered lived experience talks and training to over 13,500 midwives, health visitors and other health professionals, enabling them to have greater confidence in identifying and responding to postpartum psychosis.

APP fully support the recommendation to invest in more midwives and health visitors with specialist skills in perinatal mental health to improve access to timely support for women and families.

Read more about the report here >

Dellasposa Gallery silent art auction in support of APP

Dellasposa Gallery held a silent art auction in support of Action on Postpartum Psychosis on Thursday 4th November, in memory of Alice Gibson-Watt (née Montagu-Douglas-Scott), who passed away in 2012 due to complications resulting from postpartum psychosis. Alice is the cousin of Julian Phillimore, the Founder and Director of Dellasposa.

The silent auction was hosted by BBC Antiques Roadshow's Jonty Hearnden, with a brilliant selection of artworks by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Sir Peter Blake, Michael Craig Martin, Ben Eine, David Shrigley, Sara Pope, Quentin Blake, among many others.

To view the auction catalogue follow the link here.

We would like to say a huge thank you Dellasposa for supporting APP.

 

Dr Jessica Heron, Chief Executive of APP, says 'We have been so grateful for the support that Alice's friends, family, colleagues at Sotheby's and the Antiques Roadshow have given us over the past 10 years. Their support has made an enormous difference to the growth and reach of our charity, and meant that we have been able to provide life-saving support to women and families, train health professionals throughout the UK, and campaign for appropriate services for those who suffer postpartum psychosis. We are delighted that Jonty Hearnden will be the celebrity Auctioneer and for the impressive pieces being sold to support our charity.'

For further information on the silent auction and related exhibition, you can write to info@dellasposa.com

Our 'Fabulous Four' who ran this year's Royal Parks Half Marathon

For this year's Royal Parks Half Marathon which took place on Sunday 10th October, APP had four amazing runners: Sally Hogg, Nicola Ball, Jeni Dibley-Rouse and Anneka Harry.The Half Marathon was held in central London, and took in the capital’s world-famous landmarks on closed roads, and four of London’s eight Royal Parks – Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens - in all their autumnal glory.

Sally has worked on improving services for women with perinatal mental health problems and is an admirer of APP’s work, particularly the central role played by women with lived experience. Sally completed a skydive with team APP in 2018, and ran a virtual half marathon in her local area for APP in October 2020 after the Royal Parks ‘live’ event was postponed due to Covid-19. She also ran in this year’s live event.

Sally says: "Two of my friends have had postpartum psychosis (PP), and through my work I’ve met many other women who have suffered from PP. APP is a fantastic charity which provides information and support to women and their families, trains health professionals and facilitates research. The charity has been instrumental in campaigning for improvements to services for women with PP across the UK. Women who experience PP have a very difficult and unusual experience of early motherhood. In addition, the stigma associated with mental illness can make it hard for them to talk about their experience. APP’s peer support helps women and families affected by PP feel understood, supported and less isolated”

You can still visit and donate to Sally’s JustGiving page here.

Nicola says: “In 2016 I was diagnosed with PP after the birth of my daughter. A relatively unknown mental illness that affects 1-2 in 1,000 births. This year to raise money and just as importantly raise awareness I will be running the Royal Parks Half Marathon with my amazing friend Jeni Dibley-Rouse who has been incredible."

You can still visit and donate to Nicola’s JustGiving page here.

Jeni says: “I am very proud to be running the Royal Parks half marathon for APP and supporting our friends Nicola and James. They have overcome PP with the support of this amazing charity. The work that APP completes is vital in supporting and raising awareness of the condition, please donate to help support the APP and help me through the last few weeks of training.”

You can still visit and donate to Jeni’s JustGiving page here.

Anneka chose to support APP after her friend, APP Ambassador Laura Dockrill, experienced PP. She says: “In 2018, postpartum psychosis tried to steal my friend Laura Dockrill from her son, her partner, her family and friends. From her very own life. When Laura was in the psychiatric hospital, I wrote her a poem to act as a mirror, to remind her why she is the best friend and human being. Laura not only survived but, as she says herself, she surTHRIVED. And she has come out the other side an EVEN BETTER version of the best friend and human being! APP is a small charity doing big work – promoting awareness, funding research and campaigning to help more women and families surthrive.”

You can still visit and donate to Anneka’s VirginMoneyGiving page here.

Our four runners have raised more than £3,900 for APP. We would like to thank Sally, Nicola, Jeni, and Anneka for supporting APP and everyone who has donated.

If you have been inspired by our runners, we would love to support any fundraising ideas you have. Get in touch here.