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. 


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 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 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

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

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

Global Peer Support Celebration Day, Thursday 20th October

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

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: