Shocking gaps in UK maternal mental health services

#everyonesbusiness Campaign Launched Today

Pregnant women and new mothers across almost half of the UK do not have access to specialist perinatal mental health services, potentially leaving them and their babies at risk, according to data released today (8 July).

Everyone's Business

Maps highlighting the gaps in provision are published today by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance to mark the launch of its everyonesbusiness campaign.

The Alliance of professional bodies, patient organisations and charities, is warning that women who develop a perinatal mental illness are missing out on essential and potentially lifesaving care.

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APP Volunteering Event 2014

World First: Highest number of women with lived experience of Postpartum Psychosis come together under one roof!

Volunteer Event 2014On Saturday 26th April 2014, The Barberry in Birmingham was once again home to another fantastic APP event. The Volunteer Event gave thirty women who have experienced   Postpartum Psychosis and their families a chance to join together to talk about the future of the illness and the charity. 
 
The day combined a more formal agenda with chances for women to chat, meet  each other and share their stories. Several women in the room had never talked openly about their PP episode before and all who attended were deeply moved to be  surrounded  by individuals  who  truly understood  the  illness first hand.  
 
Dr  Jess  Heron,  Vice  Chair,  set  the  tone  for  the  day  with  a warm  and  informative welcome;  she  gave  an  overview  of APP, its history and hopes and dreams for the future. Andrea Lambert, Peer Support Coordinator, then described the amazing work being done to help women and their families via the forum and on an individual level. Lucy Vernall talked about media volunteering, pointing out the pros and cons of choosing to share your story publicly. Nicola Muckelroy spoke about her current project, to launch a Regional Representative network, ensuring APP has every region in the UK covered by at least one active volunteer who will raise awareness and fundraise in their specific area. Heather Heron, Trustee, filled the pre-lunch slot  with  an  enthusiastic   and  passionate   plea  for fundraising and the difference it makes.  
 
After lunch,  Anna  Jones,  Volunteer,  talked  about  her experience   of  PP  and  talks  she has  been  giving  to  the medical profession in her area to help the PP cause. Professor Ian Jones, Chair, bought  the  more  structured  agenda  to  a  close  by sharing his academic research in to PP and answering questions from individuals about the illness, recovery, medication, symptoms and its connection with other mental illnesses.
 
In the afternoon, the attendees split in two different groups to brainstorm,  collaborate and tackle questions regarding the future work of APP. Topics  covered  included: Regional Rep roles, obtaining and spending future funding, support opportunities for woman and families, providing useful literature, research projects, campaigning at government level, involving high profile individuals and equipping Volunteers with the necessary skills set.
 
Dr Giles Berrisford, Clinician & Trustee, gave a summary of all these discussions, remarking on the extraordinary progress APP has made to date and how vital its support is to the world of perinatal psychiatry.
 
Throughout the day, Lucy Vernall, APP’s  Media Coordinator, was ready and armed with a camera in the photo booth to record snippets of women talking about their PP experience with messages to the general public, sufferers and policy makers about the illness. These clips will be made into short films for the APP website to help with campaigns for improved services.
 
Another remarkable APP event bringing women together to help cement a brighter future for Postpartum Psychosis and improved services for those affected by it.
 
Onward!
 

Following the event we received many messages from attendees expressing how much meeting other PP women face to face meant to them and how much they got from the day on so many levels. Here’s one of them: 

"I wanted to drop you all a few quick lines to say simply "Thank You!" for last Saturday at the Barberry. It was the first time I had attended an APP event & most importantly for me, the very first time I had met another living, breathing mother who had also experienced Postpartum Psychosis!! I now truly understand I have not been alone in this long old journey & this was an incredible feeling, very special indeed. I want each of you to realise that what you have achieved so far is worth every single minute & hour of effort that I understand must go into running that kind of Workshop. Thank you so very much." ~ E.G.

On her blog 'Bumps and Grind', Kathryn writes about coming along to the Volunteers Event & also her experience of receiving support via our PPTalk online forum.

Kathryn's blog: 'Bumps and Grind: PP Survivors United'>>


 

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Women on antidepressants more successful at breastfeeding if they keep taking medication

University of Adelaide researchers have found that women on antidepressants are more successful at breastfeeding their babies if they keep taking the medication, compared with women who quit antidepressants because of concerns about their babies' health.

These results have just been presented this week at the 18th Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) Annual Conference in Perth. Using data from the Danish National Birth Cohort in Denmark, researchers in the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute studied the outcomes of 368 women who were on antidepressants prior to becoming pregnant.

"We found that two thirds of the women (67%) stopped taking their antidepressant medication either after becoming pregnant or during breastfeeding," says Dr Luke Grzeskowiak from the Robinson Research Institute.

"A third of the women (33%) continued to take antidepressant medication throughout their pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and these women were much more successful at maintaining breastfeeding up to and beyond the recommended six months.

"In contrast, those women who had stopped taking antidepressants were also more likely to stop breastfeeding within the recommended six months."

Dr Grzeskowiak says the health benefits of continued breastfeeding greatly outweigh any perceived risk to the baby from antidepressant medication.

“This is a really important message ... on the balance of it, we believe that continuing to take antidepressant medication and maintaining regular breastfeeding will be the best outcome for both the baby and the mother”

"This is a really important message because we know that breastfeeding has immense benefits for the child and the mum herself, including a degree of protection against post-natal depression," he says.

"The amount of antidepressant medication that finds its way into a mother's breast milk is very low. On the balance of it, we believe that continuing to take antidepressant medication and maintaining regular breastfeeding will be the best outcome for both the baby and the mother."

Dr Grzeskowiak says many women struggle with decisions about what to do with medications both during pregnancy and lactation.

"If they're taking antidepressants, they should be supported and encouraged by family members, friends and healthcare professionals to continue with their medication, knowing that good breastfeeding outcomes are all-important for them and their child," he says.

This research was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, and the Women's and Children's Hospital Foundation.


 

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Call for partners & husbands get involved!

FamilyHere at Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP), we have been working towards developing online resources and an information leaflet for the partners of mums who have suffered Postpartum Psychosis, offering information and support for them during an episode of PP.

Over 80 partners of APP members have completed a postal survey and 12 men have taken part in telephone interviews about their support needs during PP - thank you! Last year we held a small focus group with partners to develop an outline for our web resources and we have now produced draft web and leaflet content.

In March 2014, we are planning to hold a workshop for partners.  We are looking for partners who want to help us finalise our resources. We need partners to review and comment on the web and leaflet content, their design and presentation and ways that they can be promoted. We would also like partners to help us create a short videos aimed at other men in a similar situation, and photos / images to go alongside the web and leaflet materials.

The workshop will be a day session and is likely to be held on a Saturday at the University of Birmingham. Food will be provided and all transport expenses will be refunded. We hope it will be a great opportunity for partners to meet other partners who have been through similar experiences, and help us make the situation better for others in the future.

If you are a partner and you might be willing to consider coming along to this workshop or would like to use your IT, marketing or artistic skills to help us in any other way, please get in touch. It’s not a commitment at this stage, we aim to find out how many people might be interested in our workshop.

Email: ruth@www.app-network.org

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APP’s Chair wins prestigious psychiatric research prize

Ian Jones AwardAPP’s Chair, Professor Ian Jones of the National Centre for Mental Health at Cardiff University, has won a major prize at the fifth annual Royal College of Psychiatrists Awards.

Professor Jones, who is Deputy Director of the research centre and an Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, was awarded the Psychiatric Academic / Researcher of the Year prize at a ceremony held at The Royal Society of Medicine in London.

The awards mark the highest level of achievement within psychiatry, and are designed to recognise and reward excellent practice in the field of mental health.

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Development of an inpatient care questionnaire; Can you help?

Kings College LondonKings College London is trialing a questionnaire assessing the perceptions of perinatal mental health services developed in collaboration with those who have used their services. The study: Improving the therapeutic environment on inpatient wards, requires patient contributions to the evidence base on inpatient care.

They require people to complete the survey and give feedback to enable them to fine-tune it before it is used in an upcoming nationwide trial investigating such services. Taking part will help develop an important tool that will be used to improve the care women receive in the future.

Can you help? It should only take 10 minutes and all results are anonymous.

If you are happy to complete an additional survey after 5-10 days’ time,  please enter your phone number at the end of the survey. After completing both surveys, you will be entered into a prize draw for a £100 Love to Shop voucher as a thank you.

Please read the Patient information sheet here»

Once you have read the patient information sheet, click here to complete the survey»

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Research study: The role of relationships in PP

Lancaster University

UPDATE: Recruitment of participants for this study is now closed. Thank you to everyone who kindly took part. We look forward to seeing the findings.

The role of relationships in Postpartum Psychosis (unusual experiences during the postpartum period)

  • Have you been given a diagnosis of Postpartum Psychosis (puerperal psychosis)? 
  • Would you be willing to talk about your relationships with important people in your life in relation to these experiences? 

I am a trainee clinical psychologist at Lancaster University and I am currently carrying out research into the experiences of women who have lived through a period of mental distress after childbirth, and their significant others. I want to learn about the role of relationships during and after this experience. I hope that my findings will help staff in Mother-and-Baby units to work with the families and friends of women and continue to improve the services that women receive.

I would like to talk to women who have experienced Postpartum Psychosis and someone important to them (you can choose who this is – perhaps it could be a partner, mother, sibling or friend?) Both of you would need to be 18 years old or over. If you fit the above criteria and are interested in sharing your experiences, please contact me to find out more.

Read the patient information sheet here»

Caroline Wyatt
Tel: 0785 251 6566
Email: c.wyatt@lancaster.ac.uk

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Specialist Mental Health Midwives - what they do & why they matter

Specialist Maternal Mental Health midwivesSpecialist Mental Health Midwives have a crucial role in effective perinatal mental health care. However, there are currently many maternity services without this important position, and where Specialist Mental Health Midwives do exist there are differences in their role, skills and experience.

This document produced by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance aims to help address this gap, by explaining why Specialist Mental Health Midwives are needed, and what they do. It is intended as a resource for maternity managers and commissioners looking to introduce or strengthen the Specialist Mental Health Midwife role in their local service. We hope that it will aid discussions and lead to improvements in local provision.

Read or download the full document here>

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Peer Support Training Workshop 2013

Peer Support Workshop 2013Eight volunteers with lived experience of PP came together from across the UK to attend a Peer Support workshop on 12th Oct. The day was momentous, memorable and a success on many levels. It was a real pleasure to meet and work with so many passionate and dedicated people. Thank you to everyone who gave up their free time and made the big effort to attend. We’re proud and grateful to further expand our PPTalk team with such a wonderful, inspirational group of volunteers!

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CALL for Evidence & Participation in Reference Group

Maternal Mental Health AllianceFor a study on the economic consequences of maternal mental health problems during the perinatal period conducted by PSSRU/LSE and Centre for Mental Health

As part of the Everyone's Business Campaign, London School of Economics (LSE) and Centre for Mental Health are to publish a report looking at the 'Economic Consequences of Maternal Mental Health Problems in the Perinatal Period'.

As a first step in this work, LSE & Centre for Mental Health have just issued a call for any information in this area, and in particular:

  • National and International studies which measure the outcomes of individuals exposed to perinatal mental health problems - including mothers, children and their partners.
  • Evidence on the (cost-) effectiveness of interventions or information about the cost of running a specific intervention.
  • Information about any other relevant studies that you are aware of.
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