The shortlist for this year's Mind Media Awards features four powerfully told stories of postpartum psychosis. They are:
- BBC One documentary, My Baby, Psychosis and Me, which aired in February this year.
- BBC Radio 4's The Listening Project on Postpartum Psychosis.
- BBC One Eastenders, Stacey Branning postpartum psychosis storyline that APP collaborated on with Mind and Bipolar UK.
- The Sun Fabulous Magazine article, "Having a baby made me psychotic" featuring APP media volunteer, Kathryn.
Mind's CEO, Paul Farmer said, "The media we consume, whether through TV documentaries, print news, digital blogs, radio or film, has a huge impact on people’s attitudes towards mental health problems."
We believe that all four of these sensitively told PP stories go some way to raise awareness of the symptoms, help reduce the stigma surrounding this mental illness and help those who develop Postpartum Psychosis get diagnosed and treated more quickly.
The winners will be announced on 14th November.
Congratulations to APP trustee Clare Dolman who has been invited to take part in the development of a national ten-year strategy for mental health research.
The recently published Five Year Forward View for Mental Health recommended that the Department of Health, working with others, should set out a ten-year strategy for mental health research. The work has been divided into different areas to cover Basic Research, Translational Research, Population and Health Services Research and Children and Young People.
Clare, who lectures at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London on service user research, often referring to examples from her own experience of bipolar disorder and postpartum psychosis, has been asked to be Deputy Chair of the Population and Health Service working group. Clare said,
“I’m very pleased to have been asked to take part in this important exercise, especially as it enables me to represent people using mental health services, particularly perinatal services”.
Overseen by Professor Chris Whitty, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, these groups will meet over the next few months with a view to publishing recommendations next year.
This week also saw the launch of a paper written by Clare on on decision making in pregnancy for women with bipolar (see photo) which you can find here. Double congratulations!
Congratulations to APP Media Volunteer, Katy Chachou, who pulled out all the stops to get her story told in a sensitive, informative and positive way by the Daily Mail.
APP was contacted by freelance journalist Jane Feinmann following the paper's recent report on the tragic case of Alice Gibson-Watt.
Katy and her husband George were interviewed for the piece and a photographer sent to get pictures of mother and daughter today. Katy even agreed to be contacted while on holiday abroad to make the article happen.
Also included are some great quotes from APP Chair, Giles Berrisford, alongside informed comments from perinatal mental health experts Dr Judy Shakespeare and Dr Carrie Ladd from the Royal College of General Practitioners.
It's a great piece combining a traumatic personal experience with expert opinion. It demonstrates that PP can happen to any new mother but that full recovery is possible. We hope it will help raise awareness of PP among a large and new audience. Happily, the online article also carries a link to APP's website at the foot and embeds our stigma-busting video.
Huge thanks to Katy and Giles for their excellent work!
The Royal College of General Practitioners has launched a new Perinatal Mental Health Toolkit designed to support GPs and other healthcare professionals as a go-to collation of resources that could support them to deliver the care their patients with perinatal mental health conditions need.
But the Toolkit isn't just for GPs. It contains plenty of patient and even partner resources including APP's Insider Guides and Peer Support Service.
Dr Carrie Ladd, RCGP Clinical Fellow for Perinatal Mental Health, and lead on the PMH toolkit, said it "has been developed in consultation with women who have had perinatal mental health problems, and we hope it will give them the confidence to approach health professionals, and be better informed about their choices and what they should expect."
APP Chair, Dr Giles Berrisford gave a keynote presentation at the launch talking about NHS England's strategy for transforming perinatal mental health. Following the hashtag #PMHtoolkit on Twitter showed how positively the Toolkit is being received and a sense of optimism about the future of perinatal mental health services.
Find out more, take a look at the Perinatal Mental Health Toolkit on the RCGP website.
We are pleased to announce that APP will continue to host the successful Everyone’s Business Campaign on behalf of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), following the award by Comic Relief of a grant of £750,000 for the next phase of the campaign.
The Everyone’s Business campaign calls for all women throughout the UK who experience perinatal mental health problems to receive the care they and their families need. The grant will enable the MMHA, supported by APP, to sustain and build on the momentum of the first phase of the campaign. A recent independent evaluation shows that over the past three years the Everyone’s Business Campaign has made a significant impact in six key areas, including enabling perinatal mental health to become a political priority and strengthening the case for improved perinatal health services.
Dr Jess Heron, Director of APP says, ‘Action on Postpartum Psychosis is delighted to have been asked to continue hosting the Everyone’s Business Campaign. We have been pleased to play our part in the campaign’s success so far and very much look forward to working with MMHA to help deliver the next phase. The campaign is absolutely vital and has already had a real impact to women and families. Crucially, for families affected by Postpartum Psychosis, it is changing national consciousness of the importance of access to good maternal mental health care. There is still much more to do over the coming years and this would not be possible without Comic Relief’s support.’
Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust today released a great video to highlight the expansion of specialist psychiatric support for mothers who experience mental illness.
Two families share stories of recovery in the film, including a mum who experienced Postpartum Psychosis after the birth of her first child. She and her husband are now expecting again, having taken advice from the perinatal mental health team and put a care plan in place. Their story begins about 6 minutes in.
The character of Sarah Platt in Coronation Street is currently under psychiatric care in a Mother and Baby Unit having experienced psychotic episodes. On Monday 4th July she was diagnosed on screen with Postpartum Psychosis (PP).
It is good to see that Postpartum Psychosis is being tackled by the major soaps, and that the term is receiving wider use. For years, PP has been a silent mental illness. Many women and families affected by PP have not previously heard of it. They do not know: the signs and symptoms to watch out for; where to get help; or that they will recover. Many struggle to discuss their experiences with friends or other new mums, for fear of stigma, and because most of their friends have also not heard of it.
Unfortunately APP was not approached or consulted about this storyline. APP have requested that the programme list us on ITV’s Advice webpage, but the programme have stated that they cannot. MIND have told us that they will direct any enquires they receive to APP – to our website, email and peer support forum.
There is a concern being expressed by many of our members that the experience and symptoms the character Sarah Platt is portraying in the soap opera are not typical of PP, and not in line with their own experience of the illness.
Although PP can manifest in a wide variety of ways and it is hard to describe a ‘typical case’, it would be more usual for PP to begin in the first few days following childbirth, with women developing hallucinations, delusions, mania, depression, odd and erratic behaviour. It can get worse very quickly and should always be treated as a medical emergency. Most women need to be admitted to a Mother & Baby unit for treatment. To date, there has been little evidence that social or psychological factors play a major role in causing PP, for most women. Research suggests that a person’s genes may play a role, as well as sleep disruption, and the major hormonal and biological changes that occur around the time of birth.
PP affects people of all social classes, education levels, family backgrounds and cultures. PP can happen ‘out of the blue’ to women without previous experience of mental illness. There are some groups of women, women with a history of bipolar disorder for example, who are at much higher risk.
APP offers support to all women suffering from psychosis in the postpartum year. Whether an episode is triggered by childbirth or later in the postpartum year, many of the issues women need support with when ill and managing a baby will be the same.
• Insider Guides - developed with the help of women who have experienced PP and their partners www.app-network.org/what-is-pp/app-guides
• Peer Support – an online forum where you can talk to other women and partners that have ‘been there’ www.app-network.org/peer-support
• 1:1 email support – we can connect you with a trained peer supporter – all of whom have recovered from PP www.app-network.org/peer-support
Yesterday, Monday 6 June 2016, the charity Parent Infant Partnership (PIP) UK launched the UK’s first Infant Mental Health Awareness week, and a new campaign ‘Building Babies Minds’ which seeks to highlight the importance of laying the foundation of the mind for good mental health in infancy. At APP, we understand the importance of mothers and babies getting a good start in life and we welcome this campaign to raise awareness.
"Funded by Big Lottery over the past four years, APP has changed the landscape of PP by increasing public awareness, improving patient information, and increasing the availability of support. Our research clearly demonstrates the positive difference our work has made to the lives of women and families affected by PP across the UK. It is vital that we build on the success of this project – there is so much more to be done.
With the help of our supporters, we will continue to improve public understanding of PP, its symptoms, and that recovery is possible; we will continue to improve access to information and peer support; we will continue to build our PP community to reduce isolation, alienation, guilt, and promote good recovery, in all women and families affected by PP; we will campaign and educate to ensure that all women, their babies and families are adequately cared for; and we will facilitate more research to understand the causes, impact, and treatment of this traumatic and family-shattering illness."
Fern Britton joins mums and dads to speak out about Maternal Mental Health for Sport Relief.
- More than 1 in 10 women develop a mental health illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby
- Join the conversation from 11am Weds 24th Feb on Twitter @SPORTRELIEF using #MUMTALK
- Sport Relief cash to help people affected by maternal mental problems
As part of a series of new short films produced by Sport Relief, TV presenter Fern Britton will share her experience of maternal mental health alongside other mums and dads from across the UK, who have also been affected, on Wednesday 24th February.
The films will be shared on Sport Relief’s Twitter feed to shine a light on maternal mental illness in the UK and help to reduce stigma around the issue. The public will also be encouraged to share their stories and talk about their own experiences. Members of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, which benefits from Sport Relief cash, will be responding during the day to any people looking for advice or support.
By going to @SportRelief on the day, the nation will gain a unique insight into an issue that affects as many as 1 in 10 women yet is still a big taboo and not talked about openly. Many women feel completely alone and too embarrassed to share their true feelings, with 7 in 10 women affected hiding or downplaying their symptoms.
Without understanding, support, and treatment these mental illnesses have a devastating impact on the women affected and on their partners and families. However, with the right help at the right time women affected by maternal mental health problems do get better.
By giving women and men a platform to speak out about maternal mental illness, Sport Relief hopes to highlight what help is out there, and encourage more people affected to seek the support they need to recover.
Cash raised through Sport Relief has been helping to fund maternal mental health projects in the UK since 2010. These projects include the Bluebell Care Trust in Bristol, and the Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s ‘Everyone’s Business’ campaign, which raises awareness of the importance of maternal mental health issues at a national level and is helping women and families across the UK to access specialist support.
The contributors featuring in the films have been helped through Bluebell Care Trust and member organisations of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance.
Fern Britton said: “Everyone tells you that having a baby is going to be perfect, so you try to be the perfect mum. However, you're not blooming at all, you're blooming awful. I was lonely, isolated and frightened. I felt lost, like a failure and I couldn't identify with who I was anymore. When the doctor told me what I was feeling was Postnatal Depression it was so liberating, I felt such a sense of relief that I wasn't going mad. Once my family knew, I started to get better. Once I could talk to my family and they understood, it was a wonderful feeling.”
“The minute I said the words to someone, help it was there for me. If I had known how easy it was to get help I would have told someone sooner. Having been through this and getting better myself I would urge any mum who might be feeling in a dark place to tell someone - don't wait! If you tell someone, you will get help, and you will get better.”
The day is being supported by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, Bluebell Care Trust, the Royal College of General Practitioners, MIND, Channel Mum who are following the stories @SportRelief and sharing their own views and insight using #MumTalk.
Dr Alain Gregoire, Perinatal Psychiatrist and Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance said: “Being a parent is the most difficult thing any of us ever does and when we go through difficult times we need other people, but if we are not mentally well, we feel alone. Knowing you are not alone, that other people care and want to help, and knowing that if you speak out about how you are feeling you will get help, are crucial steps to recovery. Through this day of activity, Sport Relief is giving every one of us the opportunity to help mums and dads who are suffering from mental health problems at this critical time in their lives”
Sport Relief is back from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th March and there are more ways than ever for you to take part, change lives and feel proud. The money raised will transform people's lives in the UK and across the world's poorest communities, including people affected by maternal mental health problems.
About Sport Relief
Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active, raise cash and change lives. The money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help people living incredibly tough lives, across the UK and the world’s poorest communities. It all leads up to the Sport Relief weekend and a fantastic night of TV on the BBC.
Sport Relief 2016 will take place from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th March 2016. You can run, swim, cycle or even walk yourself proud at events across the country. There's a distance for everyone, whether you're sporty or not. Find out more at www.sportrelief.com