A huge thank you to Kimberley Mace and her best friend who took part in a skydive on Saturday 11th September 2021 to raise awareness and money to support APP’s work.
Kimberley experienced postpartum psychosis (PP) in November 2015 after the birth of her son, and was initially treated on a general psychiatric ward at Ipswich hospital before being admitted to her local hospital at Wedgewood.
Kimberley said: “APP helps mothers and families who have experienced this severe illness and this wonderful charity helped me to understand what exactly I was diagnosed with. Whilst there’s more talk about PP now, it wasn’t an illness known to me when I was diagnosed in 2015.
I have since gone on to have my daughter with no recurrence of PP. APP’s forum helped me get through this by answering any questions I had.”
After the skydive Kimberley said: “I am so proud and I really hope this money helps the charity. I am forever grateful for APP.”
You can still visit and donate to her fundraising page here.
If you have been inspired by Kimberley, we would love to support any fundraising ideas you have. Get in touch here.
Natalie Thompson has worked with APP since 2019 and is based in our Birmingham and Solihull peer support team. Having experienced PP twice herself in 2003 and 2007, and later being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2010, Natalie helps support women and families affected by PP (or other illnesses featuring manic or psychotic symptoms). After treatment in an acute psychiatric ward and fantastic care at the Birmingham Mother and Baby Unit (MBU), Natalie knows how challenging it can be to settle back into everyday life.
Here, she shares a typical day in the life of her role with APP.
I always start the day with a cup of tea (never coffee!) to wake me up. Steaming hot brew at the ready, I’ll open up my laptop, check my emails to see if there’s anything urgent I need to respond to, and then I’ll make a plan for the day. I also have a paper diary to cross reference with to make sure I don’t miss anything – I haven’t quite managed to go entirely paperless yet!
Armed with another cup of tea, I’ll call the women on my caseload to check in and see how things are. In normal times, this might be a face to face chat but during the pandemic we have tried to stay in touch by phone or zoom meetings. I know from personal experience that chatting to someone who has been through what you have is such a big help and makes you feel less alone in your recovery (which also helps to speed up recovery). From these calls I’ll write up my notes to make sure I am able to reflect on any areas I need to follow up on.
To end the morning, I might refresh my skills by taking part in training and shared learning. Sometimes this will be provided by the brilliant team at APP, but, as a partner of the local NHS Trust, we are also able to access NHS training and development too. It’s always good to keep learning and hearing best practice and I feel lucky that this is something APP is so supportive of.
Time for a lunch break. One of the perks of working from home during the pandemic is that my husband always makes our lunch which gives me more time to simply switch off for a break. He usually prepares nice healthy meals – but always tends to over do it with the mayo! (Not that I’m complaining!)
After lunch, I might attend an MDT meeting (multi disciplinary team meeting – one of the by-products of working in health is the number of acronyms you become accustomed to!). This might be attended by clinicians, nursery nurses etc.... and some of the issues we might address could include women on the high risk pathway and admissions to the MBU. Next up – it’s finally time for my one and only cup of coffee of the day! If I have any more than one I'd be bouncing off the walls!
Next I’ll make sure I get moving and get some fresh air by doing a socially distanced walk with one of the women on my caseload who is recovering from PP. These ‘walk and talk’ peer support meetings have been great during lockdown – especially for women who feel anxious leaving the house alone and those who don’t have a great social network. Getting out is difficult for new mums as it is, but even more so when you’re recovering from severe mental illness – and we know that exercise and fresh air both contribute to wellness so it’s a win-win.
Next, I might prepare for the APP café group – a session where several women get together to share their experiences or just to socialise with others who have been through similar experiences. When restrictions allow, these are all done in a physical space, so I’ll check out the venue, make sure they have good facilities and space, etc. Then, I’ll email participants a little reminder or, where outdoor café groups take place, check on the dreaded weather!
Time to clock off. That’s the great thing about working for a charity that’s committed to mums and babies spending time together – they like to ensure your work doesn’t eat too much into your family time! So even when I work from home I’m pretty strict about clocking off at the end of my shift and joining my family for a relaxing evening.
To find out more about current APP peer support job vacancies, click here.
Reviewed by Hannah Bissett
As a Mum who has experienced PP I was intrigued to read this book. The author really evokes the area the book is set in, providing a landscape backdrop (and accurate weather, as a fellow northerner I know!) to the character’s story as it unfolds, intriguingly through a mixture of “Now” and “Then” chapters. At first this slightly threw me in terms of what was going on in the story but it also intrigued me and as one reviewer also wrote, I too had devoured the book in the course of a weekend! It is a gripping read – intertwining the present-day life of Leah and her recollection and reflections on past events, and her search for answers about her life and the people she brings into it in the aftermath of her husband’s death.
“A powerful story which will resonate for many”
The book reaches a climax with spine-tingling terror and reality, describing postpartum psychosis and the past events and present terror that culminates in a devastating final chapter. An Author’s Note at the end of the book gives clear information about postpartum psychosis and also signposts to APP, emphasising the importance of getting help and treatment for this psychiatric emergency. The book is not an easy read in places but it is a powerful story which will resonate for many and will stay with me too.
The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood is available from all good retailers. Check out the publisher’s link for more information and how to buy.
A huge thank you to APP Volunteer Gemma for organising pamper packs to be delivered to the new Uned Gobaith (‘Unit of Hope’) Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) in Wales by our South Wales Team, Ines Beare, Danielle Thomas and Barbara Cunningham.
The packs included make-up items from Boots UK and Soap & Glory to help mums feel special and leaflets about APP’s peer support for mothers and families. Gemma organised the packs as a way of giving mums a little bit of “me time” to help their recovery, alongside the invaluable help and treatment that MBUs provide.
Gemma has been a volunteer with APP since 2018, and her husband Stephen ran a Virtual Marathon for APP in May 2021. She previously organised pamper packs to be delivered to all MBUs before Christmas in 2020. You can read an article about this here.
Gemma says “I suffered with postpartum psychosis in 2017. Through this I gained an understanding of severe anxiety and depression and wanted to train as a peer supporter in 2018 in order to support others through their recovery journey. I also support the Birmingham project through attending the cafe group and really enjoy making a positive impact on others’ recovery. In Christmas 2019 I returned to my own MBU in Stafford and was able to thank staff and provide a small number of pamper packs. I feel this is such an important step for mums not only to promote relaxation and self-care, but more importantly to raise awareness of APP, the support available and the ways in which they can get in touch.”
Danielle Thomas, APP’s Assistant South Wales Coordinator said ‘Ines, Barbara and I had the pleasure of dropping off some pamper packs for the mothers who are staying in the new Uned Gobaith. We are very grateful to be able to deliver these on behalf of APP and our Volunteer Gemma. They contained lots of self-care goodies to help lift the women's spirits and we have already received a message from one of the mothers to say how lovely they were! Sending lots of love and good wishes to them, from us, and all at APP’.
Thank you Gemma, for all your hard work in organising the packs, and also to our South Wales Team Ines, Danielle and Barbara for delivering them to the Wales MBU.
Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is partnering with national charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) to expand specialist peer support services across the region.
Recruitment is currently underway for a dedicated peer support facilitator to work with mothers based in the Black Country who have experienced postpartum psychosis – a severe postnatal mental illness. The service will be managed by APP in conjunction with the Trust, to support women on their road to recovery.
Postpartum psychosis is a debilitating postnatal mental illness that can occur out of the blue. New mums with postpartum psychosis may develop high or low mood, or fluctuate between them, alongside delusions, hallucinations or severe confusion. Many of these mothers have had no previous mental health diagnosis prior to onset – although women with bipolar disorder are at higher risk. It affects around 1400 women and their families every year in the UK and is always a medical emergency. However, it is eminently treatable and most women go on to make a full recovery with the right support.
Dr Jess Heron, CEO, Action on Postpartum Psychosis, said: “We currently run a number of successful peer support services across the country commissioned by the NHS, including one in partnership with nearby Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust. In combining this type of peer support with the necessary clinical care required we can ensure that women receive a truly holistic, sustained and specialist treatment. It can be daunting leaving hospital after experiencing something as confusing and frightening as postpartum psychosis, so making this additional support available within the community is invaluable for ongoing recovery. Being able to support women and families at this critical stage is key to reducing the trauma, giving hope, and helping women and families feel less alone as they navigate the recovery process.”
Hannah Bissett, National Co-ordinator (NHS Contracts & Regional Projects), Action on Postpartum Psychosis, said: “As a woman who has personally experienced postpartum psychosis I know how isolating and afraid it can make you feel. Peer support is a vital piece of the recovery jigsaw and we now have over 2,800 lived experience users sharing their stories and receiving support from trained volunteers as part of our national peer support forum.
“Having somebody there for you who knows exactly what you’re going through and who can inspire hope will undoubtedly bring a sense of relief and reassurance to women in the region who may find themselves experiencing postpartum psychosis. We’re delighted to be partnering with Black Country Healthcare on this project and I’m looking forward to hearing from applicants with lived experience interested in the peer support role.”
APP already delivers successful and award-winning peer support services working in partnership with NHS Trusts around the UK, as well as managing a thriving online national peer support forum. The charity also provides peer support for partners of women who are experiencing or have experienced postpartum psychosis.
To find out more about the Peer Supporter role, visit www.app-network.org/jobs
For International Fathers Mental Health Day (21 June 2021), Simon, Partner Peer Support Facilitator for Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP), shares a little of his own experience of supporting someone with postpartum psychosis and the effect it can have across the family.
Postpartum psychosis (PP) - never even heard of it? Neither had I but it would shortly become one of the biggest learning experiences I’d ever endured and really tested my mental well-being.
In the first couple of weeks after my wife gave birth, I had noticed subtle changes in her mood, but, as a first-time father, I didn’t really know what was ‘usual’ or ‘unusual’ after birth. A few weeks later and these changes took a sudden and dramatic turn for the worse, things became very scary, very quickly.
Over the next few days, she woke in the early hours ‘ghost like’, her mood had plummeted, she was anxious, confused, pacing around the house, having delusions and hallucinations, ultimately it all ended in a 999 call. I found myself in complete turmoil and throughout our journey with PP, had times where I went through every emotion possible - from being terrified, to feeling isolated, worried about the future and even feeling guilt-ridden for decisions I’d had to take; with little sleep, the pressure I felt was enormous, however, the support we received from family, friends and eventually specialist health professionals treating my wife was vital.
Now working as the Partner Peer Support Facilitator for Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP), the leading national charity for women, partners and families affected by PP, we know how difficult PP can be and how it affects not only the women who directly experience it, but also the partners and families who watch their loved ones go through it. This trauma can have a lasting effect on the wider family’s mental health, if not supported appropriately.
Father’s mental health
“She just stood there and screamed.”
“Somehow she had changed the world and she was watching the news, in the belief that she would see herself on it and they would report on what she had done.”
During the initial crisis, many partners describe feeling like their world has been turned upside down, with little or no control over the situation. They often talk of not knowing what was happening, feeling alone and scared; desperate to find information and to help their partner.
Postpartum psychosis as a father or partner, feels very much like a journey with a number of possible stages, from the initial crisis, potential admission to hospital, returning home and recovery - all of which bring different feelings and concerns to the fore. Just holding it together, having to keep strong for your wife or family members can sometimes see you not considering or letting on how worried you are, which in turn can lead to fathers suffering with their own mental ill-health.
What is postpartum psychosis?
Postpartum psychosis (PP) is a severe but treatable form of mental illness. It usually starts within the first couple of days to weeks after childbirth. Some develop symptoms very quickly whereas for others, symptoms can be more gradual or come and go. 50% of women experience postpartum psychosis “out of the blue” with no previous history of mental health problems.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Symptoms often include:
• Confusion or racing thoughts
• Feeling unusually high or elated
• Being unable to or not needing to sleep
• Beliefs that are unusual or concerning to others
• Seeing, hearing or sensing things that others can’t
There are a great many other symptoms that can be experienced and you can find more information by visiting the following link: www.app-network.org/early-symptoms
Getting help for your partner
It is important that PP is always treated as a medical emergency, which requires rapid intervention and is best treated in a specialised Mother and Baby Unit (MBU). With the right treatment and support, women with PP do make a full recovery and families are able to move on with their lives together.
• If your partner is under the care of a mental health team, contact them or your Crisis Team
• If your partner hasn’t been in mental health services before:
o See your GP urgently (the same day) or contact NHS 111
o If you cannot see your GP, go to your local A&E department
• If you think there is imminent danger (e.g. that your partner may hurt herself) call 999 and ask for an ambulance
Getting help for you
• Talk with your wife/partner’s medical team
• See your own GP
• Confide in a trusted family member or friend
• Speak to APP, see below and our website, for all our possible support options too
What’s the outlook for a family that has experienced PP?
Extremely good, with the right treatment the majority of women go on to make a full recovery and return to their normal selves, embracing motherhood and enjoying family life. While recovery can often be a long journey, there is hope and all of our storytellers and volunteers at APP, both women and their partners, are proof that people can and do recover.
Support at APP
We know that partners contact us at many different stages throughout their journey – whether in the early days of the crisis, partway through the journey or, in some instances, even years later.
APP are here to support you along the journey, no matter when you feel you need it. Our website has lots of information, guides and links to getting help:
• Action on Postpartum Psychosis | National charity supporting women and families
• 1:1 chat support via email, call or video
• Resources for Partners - https://www.app-network.org/partners
• PP Insider Guides – includes a partner guide - https://www.app-network.org/what-is-pp/app-guides
• APP Partners Group on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/groups/APPpartnersgroup
• Partner virtual café
Please do get in touch if we can help you, see our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org
More on Action for Postpartum Psychosis
APP is the leading charity supporting women, partners and families affected by PP. It’s a collaborative project run by people who have lived experience of PP, specialist health professionals and academic experts from Birmingham & Cardiff universities; our aims include:
• To provide up to date information to women and their families who have experienced PP
• To facilitate a peer support network for women and their families
• To increase awareness of PP, its symptoms, management and impact among health professionals and the general public
• To facilitate research into all aspects of PP
• To advocate for improved services for women and their families
Thank you to Dom Bamber who is helping to raise money for APP by selling a charity wax melt called SPERO, which means hope in Latin.
Dom is a big supporter of APP and has a sister who was affected by the illness so the charity is close to his heart. Dom has held several fundraisers for us over the last few years including a Skydive in 2019 and TikTok live stream event in January 2021. He is also taking part in our Miles for Mums and Babies Challenge which you can sign up for here, and you can donate to Dom’s challenge here.
Thank you Dom for your continued support of APP.
If you have been inspired by Dom, we would love to support any fundraising ideas you have! Get in touch here. We would love to support any event you choose.
after birth, written by Zena Forster and directed by Grace Duggan, is a new comedy deeply rooted in the real life testimonies of women who have experienced postpartum psychosis, including many women within the APP network.
The play is being brought to life by Maiden Moor Productions and will open on Monday 10 June at the North Wall Arts Centre in Oxford. Imaginatively staged, with elements of stand-up and a dynamic original sound score, after birth takes us on a journey of recovery.
The story revolves around holiday camp entertainer Ann, who, alongside the Virgin Mary, has been detained without trial on a medieval plague island in the middle of the Venetian Lagoon. Buffoonish and malevolent by turns, their doctors are intent on curing them of their heinous crime - Being A Bad Mum. This is the world of Ann’s mind. after birth’s protagonist is experiencing postpartum psychosis after the birth of her baby.
The lead character’s experiences might be extreme, but they are recognisable and relatable: what mother hasn’t felt judged, or been demoralised by the myth of the perfect mum?
Playwright Zena Forster said; “Just as the women I interviewed didn’t want to be defined by their illness, after birth isn’t a play about psychosis, it’s a play about a tough, witty woman who happens to have psychosis. The women I interviewed were amazing – courageous, inspirational and often very funny, it was natural that my protagonist was like that too.”
Grace Duggan, Director said, “Zena has created this incredibly detailed and responsive play about the realities of postpartum psychosis. after birth doesn’t hold its tongue, it doesn’t shield us from the truth, and it doesn’t stop us from awkwardly laughing with a psychotic mother. We want people to start talking about postpartum psychosis and continue the discussion about the pressure of motherhood. Through our characters and with this story we hope to expose it all and have a laugh along the way.”
after birth grew out of collaboration between Zena Forster and researchers at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU), Oxford University. For 40 years the NPEU has been the ‘go to’ international centre of research into women’s physical and mental health. Their annual reports have consistently shown that in the UK suicide stubbornly remains the leading direct cause of maternal death between six weeks and one year after birth, with women from ethnically diverse communities disproportionately affected. The NPEU were keen to find new ways of disseminating their findings with a view to effecting change.
Zena interviewed many women with lived experience of postpartum psychosis, travelling miles around the country to do so. Both Zena and director Grace Duggan dramaturged the piece extensively, developing it significantly for performance in 2021. after birth was awarded the Propeller 2020 opportunity by North Wall, Oxford which includes three performance dates 10, 11, 12 June 2021. A film of the staged performance is also being made and the NPEU are undertaking further research of how this filmed performance could be used in both therapeutic settings and in health professional education.
The time has never been riper for a recovery story. after birth is an opposite celebration of resilience in the face of inequality and adversity. There is a growing need and appetite for work that explores the disadvantages that women face in our unequal, patriarchal society. Between eight and nine out of ten women in the UK will become mothers. The pandemic has exposed and heightened the inequalities they face. More and more evidence is emerging that maternal mental health has suffered over the last year, with black and brown mums disproportionately affected. after birth creates a timely space for us to talk about these pressing issues.
As an international centre for research into women’s health and as a vibrant creative hub, Oxford was the perfect place for this play to be developed. Oxford’s North Wall has long been committed to nurturing creative talent – Alice Vilanculo (actor), Will Alder (sound design), Grace Duggan (director) all received early career support through the theatre’s various development programmes and are delighted to be back in Oxford as established artists. Likewise, Oxfordshire Theatre Makers (OTM) and Arts at the Old Fire Station provided backing and opportunities to develop and promote the play. Oxford’s supportive city council provided important early seed funding. Oxford colleges have helped with funding too. after birth’s playwright Zena Forster is based in Oxford, as is Bafta award winning film maker Jo Eliot who will be filming the performance.
Commenting on after birth, Professor Rachel Rowe, Senior Health Services Researcher, National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit said “through after birth we hope to engage audiences with research evidence about maternal mental health, to raise awareness, reduce stigma, encourage discussion and ultimately improve care and outcomes for women affected by postnatal mental illness. The play promotes some key public health messages about postnatal mental health, but importantly it’s also funny and full of hope – it should be a really good night out.”
To book tickets, click here
A huge thank you to Stephen Vinter who took part in a virtual marathon on Sunday 30th May 2021 to raise awareness and money to support APP’s work. Stephen’s friends Alex, Colin, James and Mike also ran with him for parts of the marathon. Stephen is the husband of APP Volunteer Gemma, who organised pamper packs to be delivered at Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) last Christmas, and to the new MBU that has recently opened in Wales. You can read a news article about this on our website here.
Stephen had originally planned to run the Edinburgh Marathon in 2020, but after it was cancelled for the third time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he decided to run the marathon virtually instead.
Stephen said ’In 2017, after the birth of our wonderful son, my wife suffered from an illness called postpartum psychosis (PP), hospitalising her for three months in an MBU. She was absolutely amazing and inspiring in the way she handled her recovery while continuing to be a fantastic mum. She suffered severe anxiety and depression for the following 12 months. She is now doing volunteer work for APP, helping other mums in their recovery as well as visiting MBUs.
It is definitely my turn to do my bit for a charity that is now very close to our hearts. Just under a year ago I could hardly run around the block but I decided I would set myself the challenge of getting fit with the secret objective of taking on a big challenge of completing at least one race a month for 12 months to keep me motivated. I have now completed eight 10 kilometre runs, a 10 mile race, a half marathon and a family Santa run with a further 10k and a half marathon to go before I attempt to run the big event.’
After running the virtual marathon, Stephen said ‘I am really pleased to complete the marathon and more importantly raise money to support APP. Thank you all so much for your unbelievably kind donations and support throughout. Myself and Gemma have been blown away by your kindness’.
Stephen’s fundraiser has raised more than £3,000 for APP. We would like to thank Stephen, Gemma and their friends for supporting APP and everyone who has donated.
You can still visit and donate to Stephen’s fundraising page here.
If you have been inspired by Stephen, we would love to support any fundraising ideas you have. Get in touch here.
APP would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who is supporting our #MilesForMumsAndBabies challenge. We’re aiming to raise more than £10,000 to support our work by asking people to walk, run or cycle 10 miles, 20 miles, 500 miles or even 1,000 miles! Each mile reflects the journey mums, babies, partners and families travel to be together, whilst mums receive care in Mother and Baby Units (MBUs). We’ve had a fantastic response to the challenge so far. Our fundraisers include:
Katherine Paul and her son Harris walked 3 miles in one day on 6th May (during Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week). Katherine was hospitalised in 2019 and 2020 and each mile represented the journey she and Harris made in and out of Florence House MBU. Katherine and Harris raised £76.82 for APP. You can still visit and donate to their JustGiving page here.
Dorota Donigiewicz walked more than 100 miles during May to support MilesForMumsAndBabies. Dorota experienced postpartum psychosis (PP) in 2015 after the birth of her first child and says during her recovery she found APP’s forum and other resources very valuable. Dorota has raised £420.75 for APP.
Consultant Psychiatrist, Neha Rawat, and her family covered 534 miles in May through a combination of walking, running, jumping and crawling! The Rawat-Sharmas chose their target to represent the distance between the NHS Lothian Livingston MBU in Scotland and Jasmine Lodge MBU in Devon. Neha said they wanted to highlight the fact many families travel hundreds of miles to be together whilst a mum is being treated in hospital for severe mental illness. Neha and her family have raised more than £300 for APP. You can still donate to their JustGiving fundraising page here.
The team from the MBU at Glasgow’s Leverndale Hospital and colleagues from the Community Perinatal Mental Health Team challenged themselves to walk 10,000 steps a day throughout May. APP has supported the MBU and the Glasgow team wanted to take part in #MilesForMumsAndBabies to raise awareness of postpartum psychosis and to support APP. The team went for walks before, during and after work (with and without patients), and have raised more than £5,800 for APP. You can still donate to their JustGiving page here.
Hannah Bose walked and cycled 95.19 miles during May – that’s the distance from her house to the nearest MBU in Exeter, Devon. Hannah was joined on her walks by her cockapoo, Tessie. Hannah works for the DadPad (a guide for new dads developed with the NHS), and APP's Partner Peer Support Facilitator Simon O'Mara recently wrote a blog about PP for their website which you can read here. Hannah has raised over £290 for APP. You can still donate to Hannah – and Tessie’s – fundraising page here.
Crisse Buttery works within the community perinatal team as a mental health nurse and has close links to the MBU at Wythenshawe. Crisse walked 22 miles in a day - which represents the 22 MBUs in the UK - on 21st June, International Fathers Mental Health Day. Her aim was to raise awareness of the impact that PP has not only on mum and baby but on fathers too. Crisse has raised £490. As this illness impacts the whole family unit, the money will be split between APP and the MBU at Wythenshawe. You can still visit her JustGiving Crowdfunding page here.
Ailania Fraser walked 22 miles in June to support MilesForMumsAndBabies- that’s the distance between Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and the Livingston MBU. This represents the journey she travelled when diagnosed with PP in April 2019, during which time she spent around seven weeks under the amazing care of the Livingston MBU. Ailania’s husband Stephen and their two year old son joined her on a lot of the walks. Ailania and her family have raised £100 for APP.
Lucy Nichol, APP’s Media Coordinator, and her friends Caroline, Bex, and Johanna, challenged themselves to walk, jog, cross train or run as many miles as they could throughout the month of June to raise money for APP. Lucy wanted to raise awareness of PP amongst a wider community, and spread the word as far as possible. She wanted to get outside and build her fitness back up as exercise is good for mental health. She and her friends completed 381 miles and have raised £290 for APP. You can still donate to their JustGiving page here.
Anna Grisedale had PP in 2015 and 2018, and challenged herself to walk 119 miles, which represents the journey she made from Leeds to the MBU in Morpeth with her first born. Anna was initially admitted to Morpeth as no bed was available in Leeds MBU. After a few weeks, she was transferred back to Leeds, which enabled Anna’s family to visit her regularly. She says this was a lifeline to her and her family. During her illness she experienced the therapeutic benefits of walking.
Watch this Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust film to find out more about Anna's challenge;
Anna has raised over £1500 for her challenge via JustGiving and said 'Thank you so much for all the amazingly generous donations which will help support so many women, babies and their families. I have loved every step of my walks and have been overwhelmed by the wonderful messages of support. I have huge appreciation to all the staff at Leeds MBU who enabled me to be with my babies throughout my illness, which allowed our bond to remain strong throughout and is paramount for families like ours'. You can still donate to her JustGiving page here.
Danielle Thomas APP’s Assistant South Wales Coordinator, and her husky dog Lyra, walked 106 miles during June and July, which represents the distance from their house to the Melbury Lodge MBU in Winchester. Danielle experienced PP after the birth of her daughter in 2017, at which time there was no MBU in Wales. This meant she was a 2.5 hour journey away from family and friends during her stay at Winchester MBU. This April the new Uned Gobaith (Unit of Hope) MBU opened in Wales and Danielle was able to collaborate with its planners and artists through APP. Danielle and Lyra have raised £660 for APP. You can still donate to their JustGiving page here.
Emma Charlton works at Beadnell MBU in Morpeth. Along with her colleague Katie, Emma walked 161 miles over a 12 week period to raise money for APP. Emma chose the distance to represent the 161 women admitted to the ward since she started working in Perinatal Services. Emma and Katie were accompanied by other colleagues on some of their longer walks and have raised £1150 for APP. You can still donate to Emma’s challenge here.
Naomi Gilbert, APP’s Assistant Peer Support Coordinator, took part in her first ever triathlon on 26th September. She chose a triathlon to highlight that during her recovery from PP she had to go to three separate psychiatric hospitals without her daughters, as there was no local Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) at the time. Naomi completed three challenges - swimming, cycling and running - in 1 hour 53 minutes and her younger daughter Ella helped her to run to the finish line. Naomi has raised more than £1,100 for APP via her Facebook fundraising page which you can still donate to here.
Rachel Kerr walked 100 miles for her MilesForMumsAndBabies challenge. Rachel was hospitalised for three weeks in 2016 having developed PP after the birth of her daughter. Last year, she gave birth to her son and received support from APP. Rachel has raised more than £45 for APP.
The team from the new Perinatal Mental Health Service in Ayrshire and Arran challenged themselves to walk 1,400 miles throughout October. They work with mums who are affected by severe mental illness in the perinatal period, and wanted to take part in #MilesForMumsAndBabies to raise awareness of PP, support APP, and come together as a team. They chose the distance as it represents the 1,400 mums who experience PP in the UK each year. The team have raised more than £1250 for APP. You can still donate to their challenge here.
Emily Saunders, a peer support volunteer with APP, walked and cycled more than 500 miles between 1st July and 14th November 2021. These dates are important to her as they are the dates she went into and then finally came out of Nottingham MBU in 2017 (having had two stays) when she had PP, severe PND and anxiety after the birth of her daughter. Emily chose the distance as it represents the almost 500 miles from the most northerly to the most southerly MBU. Emily has raised more than £506 for APP. You can still donate to her challenge here.
Shirley Holmes, a health visitor, has walked the six different paths up Snowdon, a total of 48.5 miles. with her husband and sister joining her for some of the walks. Shirley decided to fundraise for APP after recently learning more about postpartum psychosis. She’s also keen to support our campaign for an MBU in North Wales. Shirley’s first part of her challenge started in May and she finished the six routes in October. Shirley, her husband and sister have raised more than £472 for APP. You can still donate to their challenge here.
As a team of 11, Rachel Lucas and her family and friends walked 1,400 miles for APP during November. Rachel experienced PP two years ago and spent six weeks in Leeds MBU. Rachel is a big supporter of APP and is also one of our trained Peer Support Volunteers. She held a fundraiser with her family and friends called ‘Four million steps for APP’ during November last year. She has also developed the ‘Blooming Mum to Be’ and ‘Brand New Mum’ boxes which she is selling via her website www.pourlamaman.co.uk, donating some of the profits to both APP and PANDAS Foundation. Rachel and her team have raised more than £360 for APP and the donations will be match funded by Rachel’s employer. You can still donate to their challenge here.
Stephanie Fakharzadeh was hospitalised in an adult psychiatric ward in the USA in 2020 after giving birth to her daughter. Covid-19 restrictions meant she wasn’t allowed to see her baby for five days. Stephanie has walked 100 miles during 2021 – the round-trip distance it would have taken for her to visit her daughter once a day during her hospital stay. She was joined by others on her fundraising walks to share postpartum and perinatal stories and to offer support. Stephanie has raised more than £1070 for APP. You can still donate to her challenge here.
Debbie Sells is the Ward Manager on the MBU at Nottingham and has covered more than 1,000 miles during 2021 through a combination of walking and running. She has worked on the ward for 24 years, and the 1,000 miles represents the long distance many families travel to receive specialist inpatient care. Debbie says that APP provides vital support for women and families who experience maternal mental illness. Debbie has raised more than £967 for APP. You can still donate to her challenge here.