On this page

Postpartum psychosis can affect anyone. We are passionate about tackling stigma around this devastating illness to help women and their families speak out, seek support and feel less alone.

Media coverage is one of the most powerful tools we have for raising awareness amongst the general public.

Conversely, the impact of stigmatised coverage can be hugely problematic and affect people's recovery.

We are keen to work with journalists, copy editors, researchers and scriptwriters to ensure that all portrayals – whether factual or fictional – benefit from real-life stories and expert knowledge.

Support with fictional portrayals on TV, radio, theatre or in literature

We have experience working with scriptwriters and researchers for major TV programmes including Hollyoaks and EastEnders.

Additionally, several of our volunteers have written stage shows, poetry and memoirs based on their experiences.

Should you wish to work with APP’s team of academic researchers, clinical partners, and experts by experience as you develop your creative work, please email us at media@app-network.org.

Responsible reporting and avoiding stigma

Responsible reporting on PP

  • Include key facts and information about PP – such as prevalence, symptoms, and treatment.
  • Include at least one real life, sympathetic case study from somebody who has experienced or been affected by PP.
  • Source expert comment from a specialist researcher or clinical professional.
  • Include stories of recovery to instil hope in readers who may be currently struggling.
  • Including more than one case study will help your audience to understand that PP is not a rare, bizarre experience but a life-threatening complication of childbirth affecting 1-2 in every 1,000 women.
  • Signpost to support – as the UK’s dedicated charity, we have a wealth of information on our website to support anybody struggling with PP.
  • Read our research report on the type of media attention and communication that is most helpful.

Avoiding stigma

  • Provide copy editors with headline suggestions or advise them on what language/angles to avoid when writing headlines, to ensure inaccurate and damaging sensationalism does not occur (see our language guide below).
  • Avoid using triggering images that represent a time when somebody was acutely unwell.
  • Avoid using stigmatising images that sensationalise the experience – if in doubt, always opt for imagery that represents recovery and motherhood/family.
  • Avoid going into too much detail if somebody talks about suicide as part of the piece. See the Samaritans’ media guidelines on suicide for further information. You can also refer to our information on responsible reporting on suicide, infanticide and intrusive thoughts linked to postpartum psychosis.
  • When listing the symptoms of PP, opt for the most common, rather than the most controversial. We would always suggest listing the following: hallucinations, delusions, elation or depression and confusion.
  • Do not suggest that the illness is likely to lead to violent behaviour – this is an extremely rare occurrence and not representative of PP.
  • Do not suggest that PP is a type of, or more severe form of, postnatal depression. The two illnesses are very different and, while it is common for somebody with PP to go on to develop PND, the two manifest in very different ways and require very different forms of treatment.

Responsible reporting on suicide, infanticide and intrusive thoughts linked to postpartum psychosis

Click here for information about responsible reporting on suicide, infanticide and intrusive thoughts linked to postpartum psychosis including why it’s important and what the potential impact of sensationalist reporting could be.

Working with APP storytellers

Our storytellers are individuals who have either personally experienced or been personally affected by PP. They can bring real hope and authenticity to pieces, and, as such, all of our volunteers are passionate about sharing their story.

As cases of PP are always classed as an emergency, these experiences can be traumatic for all involved, so interviews must be handled sensitively.

  • Always read the story back to the storyteller, or allow them to see a copy of the article, to ensure that they are comfortable with the final representation and context – reflecting on psychotic episodes can be confusing so it's good to give the storyteller ample opportunity to review the finished piece.
  • Never ask a storyteller to provide photos from the time they were acutely unwell – if you would like to use photos, images representing recovery are always best.
  • As psychosis is still one of the most stigmatised mental health problems, please do not ask a storyteller to share their full details if they have indicated that they would like to remain anonymous or use a first-name-only approach.
  • Please be aware that, when sharing sensitive information, there is a possibility that a storyteller might change their mind during the process. This very rarely happens, as our storytellers all work closely with us and receive full support throughout. However, if it does happen, we will be able to help you quickly secure an alternative interview.

Language guide

  • Postpartum psychosis used to be known as puerperal psychosis. We prefer now to use the term postpartum psychosis (or PP in abbreviated form).
  • The word psychosis should not be confused with psychopathy - as is sometimes the case. The term ‘psychotic’ relates to experiencing psychosis (the experience of hallucinations or delusions), not psychopathy (antisocial behaviours).
  • The ‘baby blues’ should not be used to describe PP. The baby blues is a common, short-lived, and mild experience that many women experience after childbirth that includes tearfulness and mood lability– it is not the same as diagnosed PP or PND.

Fact check

Please see our information for journalists for relevant facts and figures relating to PP.

If you would like to check whether any aspects of a storyteller’s experience are a common feature of PP, or indeed fact-check any part of your article, we have a team of knowledgeable colleagues who would be more than happy to assist. Email media@app-network.org.

Further media support

Should you wish to discuss our guidance further, arrange to speak with an APP expert or storyteller, or require further information or imagery, please contact the team at media@app-network.org.