All posts by Jessie Hunt

January 2023 newsletter

New year challenges for APP

Are you looking for a challenge in 2023? There are so many ways you can support APP in this year – from skydives and bungee jumps to inflatable obstacle fun runs, marathons, duathlons, ultras, cycle rides and so much more!

You could get a group of friends, family or colleagues together and complete an event as a team or go solo and take on a personal challenge.

We now have access to hundreds of races, fun runs, jumps, rides and other events all over the country (and even overseas if you fancy it!)

Here’s a few ideas to get you thinking…

  • Winter Warmer runs – 5k, 10k and half marathon options taking place throughout February in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds, Richmond, Milton Keynes.
  • Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 10k or half marathon – 5th March - a road closed half marathon and 10k starts and finishes at the home of the 2012 London Olympics.
  • Colchester Zoo Stampede 10k – 14th May - a unique opportunity to run a 10k that starts in the heart of the Zoo - between the rhinos, elephants, giraffes and zebras!
  • Hull Half Marathon - 11th June - This new half marathon features a thrilling city centre start and finish and a largely flat course, offering great PB potential.
  • ASICS London 10k – 9th July - Dash past iconic central London sights Big Ben, the London Eye and the River Thames in a 10K race to remember.
  • Hillsborough Castle & Gardens Running Festival 5k and 10K – 24th July - one for our supporters in Northern Ireland, a closed roads event starting and finishing within the beautiful grounds of Hillsborough Castle.

These are just a few of the hundreds of races and activities we have access to – or of course you can come up with your own challenge as part of our Miles for Mums and Babies campaign.

  • Registration fees and fundraising targets vary depending on the event, so let us know if you’re interested in any of these and we’ll give you the full details.
  • Got an idea already, ready to sign up, or want us to inspire you? Contact fundraising@app-network.org – we’re here to support you through your training and to help you reach your fundraising goals.

A huge thank you to the fundraisers who have already got 2023 off to an amazing start - Rachel Evans has been running every single day this month, covering a total of 90miles; Hannah Galloway has cycled over 100km on her static bike and Lee Smith and his sister Donna completed 100,000 steps in 24 hours on 2nd Jan (just one of his amazing 12 challenges for APP!). A massive thank you to them and to everyone who has supported them in their challenges.

Health Professional Training

Book now for APP’s one-day postpartum psychosis training and take advantage of our early-bird rate.

The online training is led by APP's expert trainers, including:

  • Professor Ian Jones (Professor of Psychiatry, world-leading academic in postpartum psychosis, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist);
  • Dr Sally Wilson (National Training Lead at Action on Postpartum Psychosis);
  • Dr Jessica Heron (APP Chief Executive and Senior Research Fellow in Perinatal Psychiatry at Birmingham University)

The workshop is suitable for any health professionals working with pregnant and postnatal women and families. It draws upon cutting-edge research into PP and bipolar disorder as well as the real experiences of women and families.

The course develops knowledge and confidence in identifying postpartum psychosis, managing risk, developing pregnancy and postnatal management plans and supporting women and families during recovery.

Dates: Wednesday 15th February or Monday 27th March 2023. Early bird rate: £165 until 1st February (normal price £195)

Find out more and book: https://bit.ly/APPTraining2023

Antenatal class campaign

APP National Training Coordinator, Sally Wilson, attended The International Journal of Birth and Parent Education Conference on 23rd January, hosted by the University of Worcester, to share information about our campaign: ‘Let's talk about postpartum psychosis in antenatal classes’.

A YouGov survey carried out by APP showed that only 6% of expectant parents were given information about postpartum psychosis at their antenatal classes. Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death in the UK. Rapid access to specialist perinatal treatment supports the best outcomes for mum, baby and family. We’re campaigning for information about PP to be shared at every antenatal class in the UK.

As well as highlighting APP’s campaign, Sally met lots of passionate antenatal education providers at the event and heard talks from Sally Hogg from the Parent-Infant Foundation, Dr Mary Nolan, Emerita Professor of Perinatal Education, and Lorna Philips, founder of Black Mamas Birth Village.

Email us to receive updates about our campaign, training and free resources: antenatal@app-network.org.

Pamper Packs to Mother and Baby Units

APP’s team delivered 350 festive Pamper Packs to the UK’s 22 Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) in December 2022.

The packs are the idea of APP volunteer Gemma and her husband Stephen and are designed to provide a small boost to mothers who are unwell and away from family over Christmas. Each bag contained items donated by Walgreen Boots Alliance as well as APP’s peer support information.

We’re very grateful to Boots for their support - and to our new staff member, Rachel, for her hard work in organising delivery of the packs.

Pictured above, APP’s Peer Support Facilitator Jocelyn and Louise Sargeson, Assistant Occupational Therapist, dropping off the packs at Ribblemere Mother and Baby Unit.

Dr Margaret Oates

The APP team was deeply saddened to hear of the death of the hugely inspirational Dr Margaret Oates who has done so much to improve care for women and families affected by postpartum psychosis in the UK.

Read more about our memories of Margaret Oates.

Media and books

APP National Coordinator Hannah Bissett and fundraiser Lee were on BBC Radio Newcastle on 9th January (listen here from 11.15). They talked about APP’s MBU and antenatal campaigns, as well as Lee’s year-long challenge to raise awareness of PP. Lee’s story also featured on Chronicle live.

APP Chief Executive, Dr Jess Heron talked to the Guardian on 15th January highlighting concern about a recent increase in bereaved family members contacting the charity following the death by suicide of a relative after postpartum psychosis.

APP also worked on a Guardian piece about the need for more Mother and Baby Units especially in underserved areas of the UK, featuring APP volunteer Toni and the family of Orlaith Quinn.

APP’s Media Consultant, Lucy Nichol, has published her new book. Snowflake: Breaking Through Mental Health Stereotypes and Stigma exposes harmful mental health stereotypes and includes a section on postpartum psychosis.

Book Club

APP’s next virtual book club meet-up will be on Tuesday 31st January, 8-9pm. We'll discuss Are You Really OK? Understanding Britain’s Mental Health Emergency by Stacey Dooley.

You can reserve a place here.

Research studies currently recruiting

Hallucinations in early motherhood study
Charlotte Close, a Trainee Clinical Psychologist at Coventry University, is looking for women who have experienced hallucinations in early motherhood to take part in her research. She would like to understand the impact of hallucinations on the experience of mothering. The study is open to women aged 18 or over, who had hallucinations in pregnancy or up to one year postnatally (in the past five years) and who have not had hallucinations in the last month. Contact Charlotte at: closec2@uni.coventry.ac.uk.

New psychological intervention to support women and families who have experienced postpartum psychosis
A research team at the University of East Anglia, led by Dr Jo Hodgekins, would like to talk to women and families to understand their experiences of recovery from PP. If you have lived experience of PP – or are a family member of someone who has – then you can take part. The research team is interested in learning more about what ‘recovery’ means to people with lived experience of psychosis and their families and the kinds of issues people would like additional support with, and what this support might look like. For more information email: j.hodgekins@uea.ac.uk.

Inpatient hospital stays for women with postpartum psychosis
Helen Allen, a PhD student at Bournemouth University, is planning research exploring the experiences of inpatient hospital stay during postpartum psychosis. She will be recruiting women with lived experience to help shape her research. For more information, including details of how to become involved, please email Helen at: helena@bournemouth.ac.uk.

If you are a researcher and would like us to support your research, please get in touch at an early stage in planning: research@app-network.org.

Dates for your diary

Upcoming conferences and events

Perinatal Mental Health Conference, Wednesday 1st March
The theme of this in-person conference is ‘breaking barriers’ and will highlight the perinatal mental health experiences of women and families from seldom-heard communities. Details of this Maternal Health Foundation event and the link to book tickets are here.

Meaningful Conversation - Telling stories: the brain, trauma and creativity, Wednesday 8th March
Free online event featuring experts on the brain, creativity and storytelling talking about the effects of telling stories and being creative on the brain and mental health. Register here.

The Mental Health & Wellbeing Show, Thursday 11th May
More than 60 charities, organisations and companies will be promoting their resources, services and initiatives designed to support positive mental health and wellbeing at Cardiff City Hall. 50% discount with code MHWYear (before 31st January). Book tickets here.

If you would like to advertise your event here, please get in touch.

Sign up to receive updates

Joining the APP Network is a brilliant way to…
  • Find out how you can help mums and families affected by postpartum psychosis (PP)
  • Receive our newsletters with information about our projects and research into PP
  • Be a part of a national network of people who have been affected by PP
  • Hear about events, workshops, conferences and opportunities to take part in research studies
  • Help us to change things for the future
Click here to sign up to the APP Network >

In memory of Margaret Oates

Here at APP we have all been deeply saddened to hear of the death of the hugely inspirational Dr Margaret Oates.

A Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist at Queen’s Medical College, Nottingham, Dr Oates made significant strides in perinatal mental health care, positively impacting many women and families in the UK and beyond. Indeed, so significant is her legacy that there are two MBUs named after her - one in Nottingham and one in East London.

Dr Giles Berrisford, APP Trustee said:

“Dr Margaret Oates OBE has been an enormous inspiration to many throughout her life. She dedicated her working life to improving the lives of women and families affected by perinatal mental illnesses. She recognised the importance of the obstetric pathway and the psychiatric pathway working together, so that no women are left behind. She led to the opening of the Mother and Baby unit in Nottingham which is now one of two eponymously named MBUs in England – the other being in Homerton, East London

Dr Oates worked tirelessly to influence national policy– changing and shaping maternal mental health forever. She was the 1st Chair of the Clinical Reference Group for perinatal mental health for NHS Specialised Commissioning, advising on how MBUs should be commissioned.

The expansion of services around the UK since 2016 is a direct legacy of Dr Oates’s inspirational work. She has inspired many to pursue careers and to develop services in perinatal mental health. We have a lot to be very thankful to Dr Margaret Oates for and she will be greatly missed.”

Dr Oates was the pioneer behind the sub specialty of perinatal psychiatry and set up the specialist faculty within the Royal College of Psychiatrists. She was also responsible for developing the work of the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in relation to mental health, identifying the impact of mental illness on the mortality of women during pregnancy and into the postpartum period.

She also established a series of ‘red flag’ warning signs to enable healthcare professionals to identify women at risk of perinatal mental illness, and established the Perinatal Quality Network as part of the College Centre for Quality Improvement, embedding lived experience at the heart of the system.

Dr Jess Heron, APP CEO said:

“Dr Oates worked with the same zeal and dogged determination whether she was addressing care inadequacies for an individual woman or putting systems in place which would improve the care of all women with severe postnatal mental illness.

She worked hard to ensure that perinatal mental illness and suicide were included in the confidential enquiries into maternal deaths, giving us a clearer picture as to the devastating impact of PP - and other serious mental health problems - on the lives of women and families nationally.

Her advocacy and truly anarchic approach has undoubtedly saved lives, and we her legacy will live on for generations to come”.

Members of our volunteer community who have been personally supported by Dr Oates have also shared their words and memories, including Cheryl McAulay-Wainwright who said:

“I first met Margaret in 2004 when I was suffering with postpartum psychosis. Margaret was my consultant at the time and I will be forever be deeply grateful for the care that she provided me. Her smile was warming and made me feel safe and at home. It was during a time where I had lost myself - and she helped me find me again.
I went on to work within the Hopewood Mother and Baby Unit when it was first opened and was named after Margaret Oates. I was lucky enough to spend time working alongside her colleagues who would often talk about what a presence Margaret was and the huge developments she made for National Perinatal services and the care that women received.
I wouldn't be where I am today without the care that Margaret and her team gave to me.
Dr Margaret Oates OBE is a true inspiration and will be missed by the women and children she cared for and of course many more.”

Our thoughts are with Dr Oates’ family. We will never forget all that she has done in the field of perinatal psychiatry and beyond.

Early bird rate for 2023 APP Online Training in postpartum psychosis

Book now for this one-day training: Managing Severe Mental Illness through pregnancy and working with women and families affected by postpartum psychosis.

The training is led by APP's expert trainers, including:
• Professor Ian Jones (Professor of Psychiatry, leading academic in postpartum psychosis, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist);
• Dr Sally Wilson (National Training Lead at Action on Postpartum Psychosis);
• Dr Jessica Heron (APP Chief Executive and Senior Research Fellow in Perinatal Psychiatry at Birmingham University)

The workshop, held via Zoom, is suitable for any health professionals working with pregnant and postnatal women and families and draws upon cutting-edge research in postpartum psychosis and bipolar disorder and the real experiences of women and families.

The course will develop your knowledge and confidence in identifying and managing risk, developing pregnancy and postnatal management plans, identifying early symptoms, and providing high quality support to women and families from pre-conception to recovery.

📆 Dates: Wednesday 15th February or Monday 27th March 2023
⏲️ Early bird rate: £165 until 22nd January (normal price £195)
🎟 Find out more and book: https://bit.ly/APPTraining2023
✉️ If you have any questions, please email: training@app-network.org

"I thought this training was absolutely excellent. It was invaluable to hear lived experience."

Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year from all of us at APP

A message from APP's Chief Executive, Dr Jessica Heron:

"As 2022 draws to a close, I would like to thank all in our community for their support this year. In what has been a tough year for the nation’s mental health, it has been heartening to see our community pull together. Our fundraisers - which have included health professional teams, volunteers, those we support, as well as families who have lost someone to postpartum psychosis (PP) - have raised almost £65,000 to support our work.

With the help of our volunteers, we provided 1:1 peer support to 235. An average of 234 used our peer support forum each month. We set up new café groups in Scotland and Northern Ireland and worked with volunteers and Third Sector partners to campaign for a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) for NI.

Our five NHS partnership projects provided peer support to more than 270 women and families early in their recovery journey. We extended our diverse communities outreach project with Zebunisa, Ramlah and Shaheda reaching out to Black, Asian and minority ethnic community groups with information about PP. As in previous years, 100% of peer support survey respondents felt less isolated and more supported, and 30% felt the service has saved their life.

2022 was also the year in which we: welcomed our newest Ambassador, author and literary agent, Catherine Cho; placed 30 national media pieces about PP; supported 42 research projects including studies of menopause, and a drug discovery study; launched our campaign for information about PP to be included in antenatal class education; and provided more health professional training through our one-day workshops and lived experiences speakers. Dates of our training workshops for 2023 will be released soon – email us to be the first to know and take advantage of our early bird rates: training@app-network.org 

Our founding mission in 2011 was to reduce maternal suicides caused by PP, reduce the negative impacts of PP and improve outcomes. This year, the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths found that despite increases in rates overall, postpartum psychosis now accounts for far fewer maternal deaths than in previous decades. APP’s survey into care also shows that women feel more satisfied with care, feel safer, with better informed health professionals, than in the previous decade.

I would like to thank all our staff, volunteers, trustees, donors and fundraisers for their hard work and continued support. The lifesaving services we provide are because of your hard work and generosity - your support means so much to us.

The climate for charities is increasingly difficult. We understand that not everyone can support us with donations, but if you are able to give, it will make a real difference to our work: https://bit.ly/SupportAPPThisChristmas

For some women and families, Christmas and New Year can be a difficult time, particularly for those with loved ones spending Christmas in an MBU or struggling with recovery. You are not on our own – APP’s peer supporters are available every day of the year via our Forum

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy festive period”. 

 

How to send a card to a mum friend or family member who is staying in a Mother and Baby Unit

When a mum friend or family member is unwell, it can be hard to know how to be of most help and show that you care. Sending a card is something encouraging and cheerful that a mum can have in their hospital room. It can also be a lovely keepsake for a mum to come back to, sometimes months and years later in her recovery journey, and treasure your thoughtfulness at such a difficult time.

Soukaina Bennani works as an Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) peer support facilitator in the Chamomile Suite Mother and Baby Unit, part of the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Here she tells us how you can send a mental health get well soon card to a new mum in a Mother and Baby Unit. 

What is a Mother and Baby Unit?

A Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) is a specialist inpatient treatment unit where mothers with mental illness are admitted with their babies. In MBUs, mothers experiencing postpartum psychosis can be supported to care for their babies whilst having the specialist care and treatment they need.

At the Chamomile Suite Mother and Baby Unit, mums have their own bedrooms where they can put out their cards.

How can I find out the address to send the card to?

Find out the name of the Mother and Baby Unit they are staying at from a family member or friend. Search online for the address, for example, searching ‘Birmingham Mother and Baby Unit address’ to find the official NHS page for the unit.

All Mother and Baby Unit addresses are also available on the NHS WebBeds website: https://www.nhswebbeds.co.uk

Finding the right words

It can be difficult to find the right words to say when someone is unwell. Here are some example messages of encouragement you could add:

  • I’m sorry to hear that you are feeling unwell at the moment
  • I’m sorry you are having a tough time
  • I’m so sorry that you’ve had to have a stay in hospital
  • It's okay not to be okay
  • You will get better
  • We are thinking of you
  • Sending lots of love
  • Sending you a big hug
  • Hope you feel better soon
  • I hope you know I’m always here for you
  • Sending you lots of positive thoughts

Read the comments on this Facebook post for more ideas from our community:

You can also read the comments on the Instagram post for more ideas.

Which card could I send?

You can send any card, perhaps with a 'thinking of you' or 'get well soon message.

You could choose to send a printed card that includes some information about Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP), which may be helpful to your friend and their family.

We work with Making a Difference cards, which offer personalised cards for every occasion. Sending a card through this service will also help to raise funds for APP.

You can add names, photos and messages and they can be delivered directly to the recipient, or to you so you can add a handwritten message.

Find out more and select a card here: https://gb.makingadifference.cards/supporting/action-on-postpartum-psychosis 

Should I expect a response from the mum or family?

Mums can sometimes stay in a Mother and Baby Unit for a number of months as they recover. We also know that many mums find it difficult to remember too. So don't be disappointed if they don't say thank you personally. They will get better and be back in touch when they can.

Find out more about postpartum psychosis and APP’s peer support

If you'd like to find out more about recovery from postpartum psychosis, take a look at our guides and our information webpages.

APP’s peer support service connects you with people who have been there. We can support you if you’ve had postpartum psychosis, or experienced high mood or mania after the birth of your child, or if you are a partner or family member of someone who experienced postpartum psychosis. Find out more about peer support here.

If you live in the Birmingham area, or were treated at Chamomile Suite MBU (recently or many years ago), APP has a monthly café group which supports women and families affected by postpartum psychosis (PP) - no matter how long ago your experience was. To find out more, get in touch via email: birmingham@app-network.org

Learn more about our partnership projects with the NHS

Around the country we have monthly café groups, Peer Support Facilitators and volunteer teams based within some NHS services and Mother and Baby Units. Find out more about our regional projects in the NHS.

Join us for 'No Bond So Strong' - a Leicester event including a free film screening and Q&A

No Bond So Strong
1.30 – 3pm, Saturday 12th November 2022
The City Retreat, 70-74 Church Gate, Leicester, LE1 4AL
Refreshments provided
Reserve your free place here

A mental health event raising awareness of illnesses following childbirth such as postpartum psychosis. The event includes a film screening/Q&A.

About this event

This event is brought to you by Sampad in collaboration with Action on Postpartum Psychosis.

This is a free event but please book tickets here. Refreshments are provided.

The film is brought to you by Sampad, South Asian Arts in partnership with Acacia Family Support. The film addresses perinatal mental health encompassing pre and postnatal depression and postpartum psychosis.

A mother, a relative, a doctor; three voices come together to paint an intimate portrait of the hopeful experiences and the hopeless feelings of being a new parent. No Bond So Strong is a film about reveling in the joys of parenthood but at the same time summoning every bit of energy not to fall apart for fear of losing it all. It’s about taking baby steps, as your baby sleeps, to open up and talk about the highs and lows of parenthood when all you want to do is lock the door, draw the curtains and never get out of bed again. This is one family’s story of postpartum psychosis.

Please note: the film deals with issues that some might find difficult, including postpartum psychosis and thoughts of suicide.
Not suitable for children under 14, however, babies in arms are fine.
The film has a running time of 40 minutes with a pre/post-show discussion and audience Q&A.

Comments from live show audiences in 2019:

“Just saw No Bond So Strong. Brilliantly written, brilliantly produced and brilliantly acted. Would highly recommend.”

“What a powerful and creative play, sensitively addressing stigma, stereotype and lack of awareness of postnatal depression and other mental health issues relating to women from South Asian communities.”

“A beautifully honest and much-needed exploration of perinatal mental health.”

About the film No Bond So Strong

Film written by Olivia Winteringham / Produced by Sampad
Directed by Mingyu Lin / Director of Photography: Bonny John
Composer: Archita Kumar / Sound Recordist: Iain Armstrong
Production Company: Horizon Collective
Cast: Relative – Promila Thomas / Mother – Kiren Jogi / Psychiatrist – Alex Kapila
Funding was provided by Birmingham City Council. The project was commissioned as part of BSMHFT’s BEDLAM Arts & Mental Health Festival in 2019.

Help share this event

Share our posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Share the flyer with your community. Email app@app-network.org for a copy of the digital flyer or save the flyer here.

APP’s peer support forum is 10!

APP’s peer support forum, hosted on HealthUnlocked, went live 10 years ago today. It was set up to offer a safe and anonymous space for people affected by postpartum psychosis (PP) to connect and support one another through shared experiences. Over the last decade, the forum has continued to grow into the warm and welcoming community it is today.

We know that experiencing and recovering from PP can be extremely isolating, not only for the women going through it but also for their partners, family members and others involved. For many, the peer support forum is the first source of information and support people come across when going through, or starting to come out of, a very distressing time. The forum offers hope and support to those looking for others who can offer real empathy and understanding.

Today, the forum has over 3,250 members. People access the forum from all over the world, with thousands of page views each month. There have been around 29,500 posts and replies added since the forum went live.

Today, we want to say thank you to all of our peer support volunteers and staff, and all those within our APP community who help to offer support via the forum. Sharing our stories, and reading others, can be such an important step in recovery, most importantly in showing people who have experienced or been affected by PP, that they are not alone.

The following comments help to show how important the forum is:

“Finding the forum was a pivotal moment in my recovery because I no longer felt alone and like the only person in the world who had gone through this.”

“I can't thank you all enough for sharing your advice and kind thoughts. I appreciate the time you have taken to support an anonymous stranger, your personal experiences are so helpful.”

“I have felt so, so alone in my journey and although I still feel so bruised and broken after all this time, just knowing there are others out there who have shared my pain is so validating.”

“It's beyond helpful and comforting hearing from people who have lived through this and truly understand what we are going through.”

“Thank you for sharing your experience and for validating my feelings. It made me feel less lonely and much warmer.”

“You have all given me some hope that this isn't my forever. I need to hold on to that.”

Find out about APP peer support here.

 Access our peer support forum here.

APP News October 2022: World Mental Health Day and Northern Ireland campaign | Marcé conference | PP webinar | 'after birth' award | Fundraisers

World Mental Health Day and Northern Ireland campaign

It’s World Mental Health Day on 10th October and this year’s theme is ‘make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority.’

For the 1,400 women in the UK and 140,000 around the world who develop postpartum psychosis (PP) each year, their experience of care varies hugely. 

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that doesn’t have a Mother and Baby Unit. Mums with postpartum psychosis and other serious mental health issues are still being separated from their babies and admitted to general psychiatric wards. 

On World Mental Health Day, along with the Maternal Advocacy and Support Unit (MAS), and a coalition of nearly 40 charities and organisations, we will be presenting an open letter to the NI Health Minister Robin Swann to ask him to urgently prioritise setting up a unit. 

The open letter will be presented alongside a petition from APP’s Regional Representative in Northern Ireland, Oorlagh Quinn, showing the strength of public support for an MBU. 

More than 4,500 signatures have been added so far but we’d like your help to reach 5,000. Please share the petition with colleagues, friends and family. Wherever you are in the UK, you can help us gain equality for NI mums. You can sign and find out more here.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been discussing a unit for more than a decade. We want to make sure there are no more delays. There is a business case in development, but the coordinated action of charities, and sharing powerful stories with the media and public, will give the business case the best chance of success. 

Thank you so much to all those who have shared stories and developed social media quotes for our campaign. If you live in Northern Ireland, and would like to join us in delivering the petition to Stormont, or to share your story or quotes, please get in touch. 

#MumBabyTogetherNI

International Marcé Society conference

In September, APP attended the International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health conference.

The conference brings together researchers, clinicians and those with lived experience of perinatal mental illness from around the world to share research and learning.

APP was involved in two symposiums:

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.

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. We shared APP evaluations 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. We discussed the impact 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.

Dr Heron said: “It was great to be at conferences again, raising the profile of postpartum psychosis in the perinatal research community. 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 scientific conferences, helping translate the evidence base into practice, reducing stigma, and influencing research of importance to women and families."

You can read more here.

The picture above shows (L-R) Hannah Bissett, Clare Dolman, Laura Dockrill, Sally Wilson, Jess Heron.

Postpartum psychosis webinar

APP’s Dr Jess Heron and Dr Sally Wilson took part in a webinar organised by the University of Cardiff on 3rd October alongside Professor Ian Jones, Professor Arianna Di Florio, Dr Marissa Dias, and Dr Angelika Wieck. This free online webinar on postpartum psychosis was part of the Women’s Mental Health Webinar Series for European Psychiatrists and was attended by 150 people.

The event aimed to increase awareness and understanding of new research into PP and its consequences for the way in which PP is classified, as well as of the risks and challenges created by the development of PP and how they can be best managed.

A recording of the event will be made publicly available.

'after birth' award

Congratulations to the team behind ‘after birth’ which has been highly commended in the University of Oxford Vice-Chancellor's Innovation and Engagement Awards. 

‘after birth’ is a play set in a Mother and Baby Unit: the main character, Ann, has a bipolar diagnosis and is experiencing postpartum psychosis. The play has been supported by APP – members of our staff and volunteer team with lived experience worked with the writer, Zena Forster, as part of her research. ‘after birth’ depicts the main character’s slow journey to recovery, her growing trust of the professionals helping her and her relationships with her mother and partner.  

‘after birth’ was recognised by the awards for its work to engage with maternal mental health through theatre. The play aims to increase awareness, reduce stigma, encourage women to talk about their concerns and find support. The team received their award at a ceremony in September. You can read more here.

Media and books

APP Storyteller, Lobeh Osagie-Asiah shared her experience of PP with Yahoo Life in September to highlight issues around access to the right type of care among Black women for Black Maternal Mental Health Week which is organised by The Motherhood Group.  

Danielle Thomas, APP Wales Assistant Coordinator (pictured top right), shared her PP story with BBC investigative journalist Stacey Dooley for her latest book, Are You Really OK? published by BBC books. Danielle’s story forms part of a wider collection of first-person stories about mental health. It includes positive stories of recovery to inspire and offer hope. You can read more here.

APP Ambassador, Catherine Cho, is taking part in a group reading of her book ‘Inferno: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness.’ The reading, on 13th October, is being led by The Feminist Duration Reading Group. Group members will collectively read out loud selected pages from the book, one person and one paragraph at a time, with Catherine introducing her work. There’s more information and details of how to book a free place here.

Fundraising news

We are incredibly grateful for the continued support of all our fundraisers. as well as to everyone who has donated; your support really is appreciated and makes a real difference. Our supporters and donors were busy over the summer this year – read on to find out more.

Big Give – a big thank you! Thank you to everyone who supported our Big Give campaign earlier this summer – whether with a direct donation, organising a Big Bake event, jumping out of a plane, co-ordinating a collection or simply sharing our social media posts – the Big Give was a big success - we smashed our £5,000 fundraising target, all donations were matched by the DCMS, meaning overall our campaign raised more than £11,200. These funds will make a huge difference to the work we can do supporting mums and families affected by PP. 

A special mention must go to Jenny Stevenson and her team of Miles for Mums runners – together they covered 375 miles and raised over £1,275 – match funding meant they raised a huge £2,550.

Are you a member of a service or membership organisation - maybe a WI, Inner Wheel, U3A, Rotary, Freemasons or Soroptimist Club? Or do you know someone who is?  We’d love to hear from you if so.  We’re keen to make friendly links with organisations across the country to discuss awareness and fundraising opportunities. We have a network of volunteers with lived experience of PP who would be happy to speak at events or groups to help spread the word and raise awareness of PP and APP.  We have a pack of info we can send to any groups who might be interested in finding out more. Please get in touch via fundraising@app-network.org to discuss. 

Sisters Laura and Helen (pictured above, far left, top) have taken part in various events this year to raise funds for APP culminating in the Great North Run, which took place on Sunday 11th September. There was some last minute uncertainty about whether the run would go ahead following the sad news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, but organisers decided an event that brought people together and raises millions for charity would be a fitting tribute. Laura and Helen raised nearly £2,000 for APP - an amazing achievement. A huge thank you to both of them. Read more about why they chose to fundraise for APP here.

A virtual high five to APP fundraiser Trichana Rai (pictured above, far left, bottom) who is more than halfway through her Miles for Mums challenge – running 300km in six months. She is out getting her miles in nearly every day and posts regular updates to her fundraising page. We’re so grateful to you Trichana. Find out more and offer her some virtual encouragement here. 

Our October runners. We're lucky enough to have a fab team of runners taking part in big events during October. Vanessa Gutteridge (pictured above with her family, far right) and Debbie Sells (pictured above, centre) took on the world famous London Marathon on 2nd October, while Sara Fernandes completed the virtual version of the event in her hometown of Anglesey. They all did amazingly well and between them raised nearly £5,000 for APP. Find out more about their stories and add your support for them: Vanessa, Debbie, Sara.

This weekend - 9th October - Jamie , Steve and Sarah will be lining up for the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London. Read about their journeys and support them here: Jamie, Steve, Sarah.

We are so grateful to all our runners and to everyone who has donated to them – we know your donations really help to keep them going on difficult training days.

The Big Bake. Thank you to everyone who organised a Big Bake event for us this summer – there were some very tasty looking treats on offer at events all over the country. Get in touch if you’d like to hold an autumnal Big Bake event and we’ll send you a free fundraising pack – and watch this space for news of The Big Christmas Bake coming very soon.

There’s still time to nominate us for a £1,000 Movement for Good Award – it takes less than a minute - simply click here and choose APP – the more nominations we receive, the more chance we have to win the award. Thank you.

If you have any fundraising ideas or would like to get involved, contact fundraising@app-network.org for more information. We would love to support you. To keep up to date and support our fundraisers click here.

Dates for your diary

APP Grandparents virtual café group meet up, Thursday 6th October: APP Regional café groups webpage 

Baby Loss Awareness Week, Sunday 9th to Saturday 15th October www.babyloss-awareness.org

World Mental Health Day 2022, Monday 10th October

APP Lancashire and South Cumbria virtual café group meet up, Monday 10th October: APP Regional café groups webpage 

APP Yorkshire virtual café group meet up, Thursday 13th October: APP Regional café groups webpage 

APP Northern Ireland virtual café group meet up, Friday 14th October: APP Regional café groups webpage 

APP London face to face café group meet up, Saturday 15th October: APP Regional café groups webpage 

APP North East and North Cumbria face to face café group meet up, Monday 17th October: APP Regional café groups webpage 

APP Wales virtual café group meet up, Monday 17th October: APP Regional café groups webpage 

APP Lancashire and South Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Blackpool, Monday 17th October: APP Regional café groups webpage 

World Menopause Day, Tuesday 18th October www.imsociety.org

APP Partners virtual café group meet up, Wednesday 19th October: APP Regional café groups webpage 

Global Peer Support Celebration Day, Thursday 20th October www.peersupportworks.org

APP Lancashire and South Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Preston, Friday 21st October: APP Regional café groups webpage 

APP Sussex and Hampshire face to face café group meet up, Saturday 22nd October: APP Regional café groups webpage 

World Kindness Day, Sunday 13th November 

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, Saturday 19th November www.afsp.org

Upcoming conferences and events

Improving Maternity Services post Ockenden Report, Wednesday 12th October

Virtual conference focussing on a multidisciplinary approach to improving safety in maternity services – learning and implementing recommendations from the Ockenden Review and Final Report 2022. Book tickets here. A 20% discount is available with code hcuk20mmha.

The Conference for Childbirth Educators, Wednesday 9th November

In-person conference at the University of Worcester examining the challenges for today’s childbirth educators. Book here.

Perinatal Mental Health Services: Improving access and support, Thursday 19th January 2023

Virtual conference focusing on improving perinatal mental health services as well as access and support during and beyond Covid-19. Book tickets here. Members of the APP network will receive a 20% discount with code: hcuk20app.

If you would like to advertise your event here, please get in touch: app@app-network.org.

 

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!"