Perinatal Mental Health Toolkit Launched

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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
 

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APP to continue hosting the Everyone’s Business Campaign 

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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.’

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Expanded Perinatal Mental Health Team Film Launch

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. 

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Coronation Street Sarah Platt Storyline

Coronation-StreetThe 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

Connect with us on social media:
Twitter: @ActiononPP
Facebook: facebook.com/ActionOnPP

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week

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. 

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APP Annual Report 2015

 

APP Annual Review 2015
APP's Annual Review 2015

"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."


 

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Sport Relief Focus on Maternal Mental Health

Fern Britton joins mums and dads to speak out about Maternal Mental Health for Sport Relief

  • Fern BrittonMore 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

Sport ReliefAs 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


 

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Prime Minister pledges a revolution in mental health treatment

No 10The Prime Minister announces almost a billion pounds of investment to enhance mental health services across the country.

  • £290 million to provide specialist care to mums before and after having their babies
  • first ever waiting time targets to be introduced for teenagers with eating disorders and people experiencing psychosis
  • nearly £250 million for mental health services in hospital emergency departments
  • over £400 million to enable 24/7 treatment in communities as safe and effective alternative to hospital

Read the Gov.uk press release here

Dr Jessica Heron, Senior Research Fellow in Perinatal Psychiatry at Birmingham University and Director of Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP), which provides information and support to women and families affected by the condition, says:

"APP Action on Postpartum Psychosis welcomes the Government’s announcement today of £290 million investment to provide specialist mental health care to mums before and after having their babies. This funding is desperately needed to help women suffering from maternal mental ill health, their partners and families, and improve health outcomes. The serious shortage of Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) nationally is a real concern in particular, and we hope the investment will help address this. Admission to an MBU allows mothers to keep their babies with them during treatment. Research conducted by APP on women with Postpartum Psychosis, a severe form of maternal mental illness affecting 1-2 births in every thousand, shows that women admitted to specialist MBUs report improved experience of care, feeling safer, more confident in the staff, more informed about their illness, feeling better supported on recovery, experience reduced time to full recovery, and feel more confident with their baby on discharge from care, than women admitted to General Psychiatric units. Yet nationally there are only half as many places in MBUs as needed. A report from the London School of Economics in 2014 estimated the costs of not having an adequate maternal mental health service at approximately £8 billion a year."


 

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Eastenders Postpartum Psychosis Christmas Storyline

EastEnders StaceyEastenders are running a high profile storyline about Postpartum Psychosis over Xmas, with Stacey who has Bipolar Disorder developing the illness. 
 
The script-writers have gone to some efforts to research the illness - so we hope that, even though Eastenders is a 'drama', this storyline will help to hugely increase awareness of PP, reduce stigma, highlight the importance of specialist treatment in Mother & Baby Units, and help new mums who develop postpartum psychosis to get diagnosed and treated more quickly. 
 
Several members of APP with personal experience and one of our academic experts have commented on drafts of the script, and met the actress and her on screen partner. We have high hopes that it will be done well, but obviously, we do not get to approve the scripts. We are also aware that Stacey's story can't represent all women who have PP - every experience of PP is different and individual - but we hope that it will go some way to raise awareness of some of the symptoms and issues faced by women & families.
 
We are working with a Medical Student at Birmingham University to research the impact of the storyline on women who have experienced PP to help us understand the benefits and downsides of increasing awareness of PP in this way. We know that for some women, the increased publicity about PP around Xmas, might be a difficult experience. If you find you need to talk, please visit our peer support web forum or one-to-one email service (register on website): 
 
Forum: www.app-network.org/pptalk. We’ll open a thread on the forum about the story so people with experience of PP can comment, give their thoughts, & support each other if needed.
 
There is a great demand from journalists at the moment looking to write about women’s  personal experiences of Postpartum Psychosis.  Here is APP’s Volunteer Media Guide, which we hope helps people to consider the issues when deciding whether to talk to journalists. Please do get in touch if you are willing to be on our media volunteer list, with a bit of information about yourself: media@app-network.org
 
Whether you decide to watch Eastenders or not, we hope you have a lovely Christmas.
 
 


 
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“Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care" comments from APP Trustee Prof. Ian Jones

MBRRACE-UK-Maternal-Report-2015“Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care - Surveillance of maternal deaths in the UK 2011-13 and lessons learned to inform maternity care from the UK and Ireland Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths and Morbidity 2009-13”

Prof Ian Jones, Director, National Centre for Mental Health, Cardiff University and Vice-Chair, Perinatal Faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“For every woman who dies, there are many more who are near misses. The strength of the methodology used is the detailed review of all cases of maternal death in the UK and the depth of information gathered. We can therefore learn lessons that apply more broadly to mental health services not just to those for women in the perinatal period. The findings of the current report are consistent with previous reports and with current knowledge - what is sobering, however, is despite similar findings over the past decade we do not seem to be learning the lessons.

“As with previous reports the latest confidential enquiry into maternal deaths emphasise the importance of good mental health to women at this time. It is vital that the messages are heard and the lessons are learnt - not only by specialist perinatal clinicians but mental health teams more generally, in addition to antenatal services and primary care. A number of ‘red flags’ are described which need to be recognised and responded to. The findings of the report remind us that pregnancy and childbirth are not for all women times of joy but may herald episodes of severe mental illness. We must ensure that women with mental illness in the perinatal period, where ever they live, have access to the specialist services they need.” 


 

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