Highlights: International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health Conference

Members of the Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) team, including staff, trustees and ambassadors, spoke to a global audience of expert researchers, clinicians and women and families with lived experience as part of the International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health Conference. 

Here are some of the highlights from the social media conversation taking place during the conference #Marce22.

Hannah Bissett (APP National NHS Contracts Coordinator), Dr Clare Dolman (APP trustee, Co-chair of the Bipolar Commission and Ambassador Bipolar UK, Trustee Maternal Mental Health Alliance), Laura Dockrill (APP Ambassador), Dr Sally Wilson (APP National Training and Research Coordinator) and Dr Jess Heron (APP CEO) at the International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health Conference, 2022.

The conference took place between Monday 19th and Friday 23rd September and welcomed leading experts in perinatal mental health from institutions and organisations around the world. The Society is led by a board of experts including APP’s very own trustee, Professor Ian Jones, who also served as the conference’s co-chair.

One of the key aims of this year’s conference was to highlight the UK’s best practice in lived experience involvement, and encourage this trend internationally. The conference events took place both in London and virtually.

Having the opportunity to speak at such an event enabled us to share best practice and stimulate conversation specifically around postpartum psychosis (PP), raising awareness of the illness, as well as our campaign asks, amongst a much wider pool of academics and health professionals. The more researchers and professionals talking about postpartum psychosis, the more collective power we have to build knowledge, effect change, challenge stigma and improve services for women and families affected.

Dr Jess Heron, CEO of APP, said “We are delighted to be attending conferences face to face again, to continue raising the profile of postpartum psychosis in the perinatal research community. We shared our research 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. 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 academic conferences, helping translate the evidence base into practice, reducing stigma, and influencing research of importance to women and families."

Hannah Bissett, APP National NHS Contracts Coordinator, said: "As a lived experience speaker, I attended Marcé to talk about what women and families need from perinatal services. Hearing the expert speakers that day in other talks, including describing experiences of PP in India and Malawi was very moving and inspiring. Whilst I do not have a research background or clinical training, Marcé welcoming lived experience speakers was an important step in sharing our voices. The virtual conference also had a wealth of streamed content and representing our peer support team sharing an evaluation of our projects in the APP symposium was a huge privilege - I'm not sure if an in-person session or virtual talk is most nerve-wracking! I hope to attend Marcé again in the future and reconnect with some of the wonderful people we met from the ‘perinatal family’."

The two sessions APP was involved with or leading were:

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. The APP team presented evaluations of some of APP’s projects including: APP’s health professional training in PP; peer support services; the ongoing campaign for Mother & Baby Units; and outlined the way care for PP has changed over the past 10 years. The discussion focused on the impact evaluation 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.

About the International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health

The International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health was formed at an international conference in 1980. The purpose of that conference was to bring together different strands of research in puerperal mental disorders. It was recognised that there needed to be a forum to discuss puerperal mental illness in its broadest sense, and as such the Society was formed. The Society was named after Louis Victor Marcé, a French psychiatrist who wrote the first treatise entirely devoted to puerperal mental illness, published in 1858.

Other notable sessions at this year’s conference included Postpartum Psychosis: Cross-cultural conceptualisation in Malawi, India and the UK; Advances in the Pharmacology of Mood Disorders during Pregnancy; Offspring of parents with Psychosis: Pre-postnatal indicators of risk and resilience; Consensus and Controversies in the classification of Postpartum Psychosis in DSM-V; Prophylactic medication in pregnant women with bipolar disorder; as well as a session focused on fathers’ mental health: Fathers’ Perinatal Experiences, Mental Health and Impact on Family Health.

Kathryn Grant (APP Volunteer) sharing her lived experience for the session ‘Prophylactic medication in pregnant women with bipolar disorder’

Find out more about the conference here

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