Tag Archives: MBU

Next stop on Chris's football tour

We've been posting regular updates about Chris Wasley and his fabulous awareness raising tour of football grounds around the UK. His latest match was at St James Park - home of Newcastle United - where he met with fellow APP supporter Lee Smith.

Here's Chris's report of his most recent football adventure...

'On Friday (1st March), my wife Natalie and I visited the Chorley MBU.  The Chorley Ribblemere MBU is the closest to my wife's hometown of Accrington, where I have already seen a match this season.
So as to not disturb the mums staying there, we understandably didn't go in to the MBU.  But we had a long chat with the Deputy Ward Manager Lauren, explaining our story and my awareness tour and listening to the wonderful work they do there.  As soon as you entered the MBU there was a whole notice board dedicated to APP. Which was great to see! But I was so interested to hear about their new endeavours in being the first MBU in the country to set up a partner programme specifically to support partners post release from the MBU.
Rightly so, medical professionals focus on the mums. The ones who have this severe mental health illness. But not to sound selfish in any way, partners go through a lot too. So it was incredible to hear about their new programme and plans to help support the partners.
On Saturday (2nd March) I attended my fourth match of my football awareness tour! I went to see Newcastle United vs Wolves at the iconic St James Park. What an experience!  St James Park is 17miles from the Northumberland Tyne and Wear MBU at Morpeth.
It was an impressive win for Newcastle after some indifferent results lately, and reignites their hopes for European qualification.
I am so relieved they won and that I am not a guaranteed curse for the home teams on this challenge!
I have to say thank you to Newcastle United, for putting an entry in their match day programme to help me in raising awareness. And to all the fans and stewards at the ground who talked to me about this challenge and all things Postpartum Psychosis and MBUs.
My wife doesn't share my love of football, but she certainly enjoyed experiencing the shops and sights of Newcastle City Centre whilst I was occupied at the match!  But the weekend experience was made all the greater for meeting the amazing Lee Smith in person!
Lee has done some incredible fundraising for APP after his wife Jess experienced Postpartum Psychosis in 2020. He completed a mammoth 12 fundraisers in 12 months and is currently training for the London marathon in April! You've got this mate!
We had a great weekend with Lee exploring the city. It was amazing to meet him in person, to talk about our experiences of Postpartum Psychosis, our families and our love of football.  We will definitely be keeping in touch!
With this being the furthest ground I had travelled to so far, over 300 miles away from home, we also took the opportunity to visit the Northumberland Tyne and Wear MBU at Morpeth on Monday 4th March.
We were welcomed in to the MBU by the Ward Manager Sarah, who was kind enough to give us a tour of the MBU and to speak to the staff. Everyone was so friendly, and again it was so wonderful to hear about all the amazing work they do there.
The Northumberland Tyne and Wear MBU have an amazing integrated peer supporter who clearly provides invaluable support and hope. It was such a warm and welcoming environment, which clearly help new mums on the road to recovery.
It has been really interesting this trip to see and hear how different the MBUs are.
I know from our experience at the Bournemouth MBU, and from speaking to Lee and other dads in the PP community, how important the MBUs are. There aren't enough MBUs in the UK, and they really do deserve to be brought to the public's attention more. Which hopefully I am doing on this challenge.
For the first time, I don't actually know what fixture is next on my list!  It has all been quite busy recently, and before I know it the season will have drawn to a close. I am trying to fit in a fifth match this season if I can, but if not I will be ready and waiting for the new seasons fixture releases to go again!
I have to say I am really enjoying this personal challenge. It has certainly evolved and grown (for the better!) since my original idea. I am so honoured by all of the support I have experienced at the grounds I have visited so far, by the clubs themselves in supporting my challenge and also the fans and football communities for taking the time to talk to me about MBUs and Postpartum Psychosis.
I am so excited to continue this challenge and for the adventures to come!'
UPDATE 18.04.2024
Chris has managed to squeeze in one more match before the season ends - this time he travelled to London for an all important derby match!
Chris says: 'Match #5 of my first season of my awareness tour complete! I am happy with that!  On Sunday 14th April I attended my fifth match of my football awareness tour.  I went to see West Ham United lose two nil against Fulham at the London Stadium in the east-versus-west London derby!

Chris and his friend inside the stadium

I went to the game with one of my oldest friends Lee 'Kiddo' who I have known since primary school. Lee and his family and friends are devoted Irons and have followed West Ham all over the world!
To my surprise, despite very high demand, I was able to get an entry about my challenge, Postpartum Psychosis and the MBUs in the match day programme - Thank you West Ham.
West Ham and the London Stadium is less than 3 miles from the City and Hackney MBU and during the week I was able to have a few phone calls with the City and Hackney MBU. Being a weekend I wasn't able to visit in person, but we have agreed that should I return this way in the future we will organise a visit. I guess I will just have to find another ground to visit for my challenge...
This was my last fixture this season, so I will be ready and waiting for the new seasons fixture releases to go again.
Up next for me is something very different - I am very honoured to have been asked to talk about my experience of Postpartum Psychosis at the Surrey University Student Midwives Conference on the 21st May.  I understand there will be a few hundred student midwives in attendance. So this is certainly a new and exciting (and scary!) opportunity for me!'
Thank you Chris and we can't wait to hear about your plans for next season's fixtures!
The match day programme featuring Chris
Chris has now set up an Instagram page specifically for his challenge - you can follow him at www.instagram.com/wasley_postpartumpsychosis/

Name revealed for new Mother and Baby Unit

The name of a new regional Mother and Baby mental health unit has been revealed.

Preparatory building work officially started in November on the £7.5m single storey building, which is the first of its kind across Cheshire, Merseyside, and North Wales.

The name ‘Seren Lodge’ has been chosen by Mums who have experienced maternal mental ill-health and features a nod to the new cross-border partnership with NHS Wales.


Nia Foulkes, APP storyteller, said: “It was important to the group to choose a name which signified hope and positivity, but also something which was welcoming to families no matter where they live. The name ‘Seren’ translates as ‘star’ in Welsh and ‘lodge’ felt homely and not clinical at all, which we thought was perfect.


Sarah Dearden, APP storyteller, added: “Having previously been admitted to a unit which was really far away from home, it is particularly exciting to see the new site as it today and know that our ideas and designs are being put into action. Units like this make a huge impact by keeping babies and their mothers together at a crucial time.”


The unit is a result of a partnership between Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP), Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCHUB), Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, NHS England and NHS Wales and will see a disused training centre transformed into a new specialist, eight bedded unit for perinatal mothers, babies and their families. Once open the unit will work alongside the existing regional Community Perinatal Mental Health service who already care for thousands of women every year.


The occasion was marked with a special ground-breaking ceremony. Mums from across the region joined members of the clinical, construction and project teams to place the first official spade in the ground.


Preparatory work on the project is progressing well with both external and internal designs agreed, enabling building works underway and recruitment for the new centre set to begin imminently.




Suzanne Edwards, CWP director of operations and deputy CEO, said: “The new unit will support new and expectant mothers in a therapeutic environment which has been purposefully designed for people experiencing maternal mental health difficulties, such as post-natal depression, psychosis or a relapse of an existing mental health condition.

“It is estimated that one in four women experience mental health problems in pregnancy and during the 24 months after giving birth. Whilst only a small number of women will need admission to a specialist unit like Seren Lodge, I’m delighted that we’ll be able to offer this care closer to home, in addition to the thousands of families we see in the community every year.”



A group of people in hi vis jackets and hard hats, holding a spade. The photo includes APP storytellers Sarah (front row, second left) and Nia (front row 3rd right), along with APP’s national co-ordinator Hannah Bissett (front row 2nd right) join the team to celebrate the groundbreaking
APP storytellers Sarah (front row, second left) and Nia (front row 3rd right), along with APP’s national co-ordinator Hannah Bissett (front row 2nd right) join the team to celebrate the groundbreaking



Dr Alberto Salmoiraghi, medical director for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Division, said: “We’re delighted that Seren Lodge will enable high quality specialist care to be provided to new and expectant mothers from across North Wales, Cheshire, Wirral, and Merseyside in a purpose built, recovery focused environment.

“Women from North Wales who have a lived experience of perinatal mental illness have played a central role in designing this new service and we’re very pleased to see that this is reflected in the name of the unit. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners in Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to deliver this much-needed unit.”


Once open, Seren Lodge will provide a home from home for women and their babies and include a nursery, sensory room, and multiple lounges to support quiet time and family visits. Having access to outside spaces is central to the development with two garden areas and a walking pram loop, with families benefitting from close access to the Countess Country Park.


Dr Jessica Heron, APP’s chief executive, added:
“We are so delighted to see the progress being made. The new unit will mean new mothers across North Wales, Cheshire and Merseyside with severe postnatal illness will be cared for appropriately and supported with parenting, without having to travel miles from their families to other areas of the UK or ending up in adult psychiatric wards separated from their newborn. APP has been working with the team to ensure the voices of lived experience are heard throughout the development process, inputting into the design and functionality of the MBU. APP volunteers are keen to ensure the unit meets the needs of families from across North Wales and Cheshire and Merseyside.”


Seren Lodge is set to open next winter.

Francoise’s story: It was 24 years before I spoke to someone else who experienced PP – it’s never too late to access peer support

It took me 24 years to access peer support through APP after my experience of postpartum psychosis (PP) in 1998, but it has completely changed my life. I went from being a survivor to actually living my life, and the self-stigma I used to feel has diminished dramatically. 

We had no idea what postpartum psychosis was.

I had never heard of PP when I was diagnosed with it after giving birth to my first child. While I’d had a fairly difficult birth, my pregnancy was fairly easy, and I had lots of support from my husband and family. In retrospect, however, my elation and need for perfection after the birth was a definite warning sign.

I wasn’t sleeping much but I figured that was normal for a new mum. One night, however, I had this terrible feeling – like I was being struck by lightning. It was like some kind of out of body experience and I became obsessed by the idea that my daughter was the second coming of Christ. I spoke to my husband and my mum and they both knew something was very wrong.

Sadly, however, even though my husband was calling our GP surgery, nobody spotted the problem. After four different GPs saw me and suggested I simply had baby blues, we eventually saw a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with PP. I was then rushed to hospital by ambulance and spent a night on a mixed ward.

My mother-in-law was also incredibly supportive, and she had trained as a nurse and had worked in midwifery so she knew about Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) and said that I needed to be treated at one. She and my husband pushed for a transfer and I was thankfully given a bed on the MBU in West London.

I was very delusional by this point and I ended up staying there, with my baby daughter Eva, for three months (although during the final month I was able to go home for short periods of time).

It was a really traumatic time. I wasn’t really aware of how unwell I was, and I found it incredibly upsetting that I was unable to breastfeed due to the medication I was on. It felt like a primal wound not to be able to breastfeed when I really wanted to.

My recovery felt quite sudden.

Although it took me a long while to get better, I remember waking up one day and feeling suddenly quite different. I was still incredibly anxious though and felt frightened at being left alone with my baby. And I was feeling very ashamed because I didn’t fully understand PP and knew nobody else who had experienced it.

Looking back, I think I was looking after my baby girl really quite well, but my lack of confidence was so low. It was a different time back then in the 90s, and I had no access to therapy or peer support, so I felt very isolated. However, I carried on, feeling more like a soldier than a mum.

I did access a local mother and baby group and made some good friends there, but I felt so ashamed talking about what I had gone through. The two friends I made through that group were so compassionate though, and my experience of PP didn’t put them off being my friend.

I gave birth to a second child, a boy, and it all went really well. I had been told that I was at risk of another episode of PP after giving birth again, but nobody said there was a risk of a psychotic episode months later. And this is precisely what happened when my little boy was three years old . I was eventually diagnosed with bipolar and experienced a few more episodes and hospital admissions over the years which deeply affected me. I felt as though I had this awful illness that I was stuck with forever, and I was overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness.

Thankfully, I haven’t experienced another episode since 2015, but it’s not just the time that has elapsed that has helped me come to terms with my illness. It’s the peer support that I found through APP that has really helped me to feel more hopeful and less alone.

It was 2022 when I found out about APP’s peer support.

I reached out to APP and the first person I spoke to who had experienced PP was Ellie, and it was such a moving moment. After all these years, I’d finally found someone else who had been through what I had.

It was like after all these years, and this long ordeal that felt so hard and endless, I was able to see that there was light at the end of the tunnel. My husband and I also went along to an APP café group and we met all these beautiful people. They were much younger than me and my husband, but we both sat listening to them with tears in our eyes. We had never cried about the experience before. It was like relief. Finally, we could face what had happened and address it in a more open way.

I think in all the years previous to this I had been so determined to get through life that I forgot to address it, to face it head on. Now I am doing it all with my eyes open, with less shame and with so much more support. I always had my husband, my family and the brilliant staff at the MBU. But being with others who have been where you are is so powerful.

My daughter Eva is now 25 and she came along to one of the meetings too. They can help all family members – whether you have experienced PP yourself, your partner has or your daughter or parent has.

Now I feel like I can give something back, I can share my story so that other women going through this  won’t feel as alone as I did.

There’s a dangerous myth about perfection in motherhood – and peer support reminds us that nobody’s perfect and that if we are struck by postnatal mental illness that is no reflection on who we are or how good a mother we are.

The illness is the illness, it is what it is, but the stigma and isolation need to be worked on. I was unlucky to get the illness, but I was lucky to have my husband’s love and the support of others. I feel very lucky and privileged in that sense and I don’t want young women to go through the same isolation that I did for all those years.

But I also think it’s important to mention that it’s never too late to benefit from peer support. Whether you’ve just experienced PP in the last year, or whether it’s something that affected you many years or even decades ago, reaching out and hearing from others is a comforting and life changing experience.

Don’t hesitate to find your community. It really has helped to change my life.

Lee's final challenge!

Lee bungee jumpingOur amazing fundraiser and dad of two, Lee Smith, is taking on one final physical challenge this month to round off a year of incredible achievements.

Lee’s wife Jess was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis, a severe mental illness, after the birth of their second daughter in 2020, and Lee is passionate about raising awareness and funds to help other families affected.

In the last 12 months Lee has completed 13 challenges – he started last December with a 10 mile mystery run; then went on to climb the three highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales; completed 100,000 steps in 24 hours; ran 5k a day in March; finished the Alnwick 10k, the Great Run 10k and the Great North Run; plus a Total Warrior obstacle course and he got his adrenaline pumping with a 100mph zipwire adventure and a 140ft bungee jump!

He’s battled through all weathers – from snow and ice to heatwaves, fought personal illness, fitted challenges around work and family commitments and managed to convince friends and family to take part in many events alongside him as well.

For his final event on 10th December, Lee will take on his longest, most challenging run of all – 22 miles from the family home in Washington to the specialist Mother & Baby Unit in Morpeth – where Jess spent several months receiving treatment when she was ill.

Lee says: 'Jess was sectioned on 8th December and first time I was allowed in (all masked up because of COVID) was the 11th so my final run represents the whole journey perfectly.  I’m so immensely proud of Jess and everything we’ve been through as a family and the challenges I’ve undertaken this year have been a good representation of this, as well as (without realising) helping me through some really dark days. APP is always going to have a special place in my heart thanks to the support and help it has given us as a family’.

Jess is now recovered and both Lee and Jess volunteer for APP – Jess as a peer supporter and Lee through his fundraising and awareness raising.

To support Lee on his amazing final challenge, please visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lee-smith215

APP calls for more support for maternal mental health this World Suicide Prevention Day

This World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September), APP is calling for more awareness and support for perinatal mental health as maternal suicides continue to devastate families around the world.

Suicide accounts for around 20% (1 in 5) deaths in the postnatal period worldwide. Before APP existed as a charity, postpartum psychosis (PP) was responsible for almost half of all maternal suicides in the UK. While there has been a sharp decline in PP related deaths over the last decade since the charity’s inception, numbers have been on the rise since the pandemic.

Dr Jess Heron, CEO, Action on Postpartum Psychosis, said: “Over the last decade, national awareness of PP has improved, health professional training increased, we have more Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) beds and better support services for women struggling with PP.

“But we are concerned that, following a decade long decline in PP related deaths, we have recently seen an increase in bereaved families coming to APP. This rise in PP related deaths has multiple and complex causes that need to be explored and responded to before more women’s lives are tragically and needlessly lost. In the meantime, we all need to know how to look out for PP in our loved ones as they start their families.”

Black and white photo of an African American woman holding her baby looking just off camera

PP is a serious but eminently treatable perinatal mental illness that affects around 1400 women every year in the UK. It occurs in the days, weeks or months after birth, and should always be treated as a medical emergency, with swift admission to a specialist MBU wherever possible.

Symptoms might include hallucinations, delusions, severe confusion, mania and agitation. Early warning signs might include feeling overly excited or elated, being unable or not wanting to sleep, becoming paranoid or anxious, extremely active or feeling like ‘super mum’ or as though everyday events on the TV or radio have special personal meaning.

Earlier this year in Northern Ireland – where there are currently no MBU beds – a coroner ruled that the tragic death by suicide of Orlaith Quinn, who was suffering from PP, was both foreseeable and preventable. Spotting the signs early and arranging for an emergency referral to a specialist MBU is paramount in preventing PP related deaths, and yet there is no mandatory training in PP for health professionals, antenatal education rarely includes mention of awareness of PP, and there is a shortage of beds across the UK – particularly in NI, Northern Scotland and North Wales.

Dr Heron added: “All PP-related deaths are preventable. But we need the right treatment pathways in place – and healthcare professionals, be they GPs, crisis teams or first responders - need a basic awareness of the signs and symptoms so women and their families can be supported as a matter of urgency. That’s why we are encouraging participation in our short training programmes. Having just a basic knowledge and some understanding of what to look out for could save a life. And that is no exaggeration.”


Free webinar for health professionals

In light of this, APP is hosting a Memorial Lecture in October, in memory of Alex Baish, a teacher and new mum who died while experiencing the symptoms of PP last year. Taking place on Wednesday 18 October between 12pm and 1.30pm, the free webinar is aimed at GPs, midwives, antenatal educators and frontline responders. The event titled “Essential Knowledge for Preventing Maternal Suicide” will describe the symptoms, red flags and actions needed to support and protect women who develop the condition and includes a Q&A with speakers and APP’s clinical, academic and lived experience experts.

For more information or to book your free place click here or email training@app-network.org

Photos by Hollie Santos on Unsplash and Andrae B. Ricketts Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/alttr_photography/


Jodie jumps for APP!

On Saturday 22nd July in Glasgow the very brave Jodie McNairn bungee jumped from 160ft (nearly 50m!) to raise funds for APP and awareness of postpartum psychosis.

Jodie chose this challenge as she felt a jump like this would feel so freeing. She says she's using it as a way to leave the past behind and move on.

Jodie has also bravely shared her story with us to help ensure more people understand the signs and symptoms of PP and to bring hope to others affected by PP:

'The day I got home from hospital after giving birth to my daughter five days previous, I started hallucinating and became obsessed with my health thinking something was wrong. Me, my boyfriend and my daughter went to stay with my mum for some support but after a few days things progressively got worse. I was confused, withdrawn, erratic and was starting to have awful thoughts that were becoming dangerous. This is probably when my family realised it was more serious than they thought. I was admitted to a general mental health unit and while there ended up sectioned as again things got worse and I had no control over myself anymore.

This was during Covid so I couldn’t see my daughter while I stayed there which was even more confusing. I remember while I was there I thought I was dead and that I was living in hell repeating the same day over and over and over.

A week later a bed became available at Leverndale Mother and Baby unit which was the start of my journey to getting the right help I needed. The women there were amazing, they helped me so much. I spent my 23rd birthday there as well as mine and my daughter Lyla's first Christmas, which brings me to why I wanted to raise money for APP.

On Christmas all the girls and their babies received loads of gifts and information/support from APP and it was at this point that I knew I wasn’t alone and what I was going through was a real Illness. I was discharged on Hogmanay to continue recovering from home with the support of my family and friends and Laura the CPN that stayed in touch regularly.

Nine months later I fell pregnant with my son and the day he was born I went back on medication in case the psychosis came back which thankfully it never did and I got to enjoy my newborn without being unwell. Two and a half years ago I didn’t even think I would be here and now I get to live life with my 2 year old daughter and my 1 year old son.

Things WILL get better - you are stronger than you think.

If you managed to read all that then thank you! And thank you to APP for giving me the chance to raise money for all the amazing things you do!'

Jodie reported back after smashing her bungee: 'So, so scary but what a feeling once you jump!'
If you'd like to add your support for Jodie's jump, you can do so here:

And if you're inspired by Jodie to take on a bungee jump for APP, contact fundraising@app-network.org and we'll send you all the info you need.

Good luck Jodie!

Mammoth Miles for Mums and Babies efforts this May!

This year we have had more people than ever take part in our Miles for Mums and Babies fundraising challenge. 

Here's just a few pictures to give you an idea of what everyone has been up to, with individuals and teams getting involved all across the UK.

Thank you to absolutely everyone who has taken part, provided moral or physical support or donated to keep our fundraisers going - it's been an incredible effort, and it's still ongoing!

Becky took on an epic 42 mile walk - find out more and check out the fab pics here.

Justine and a huge team of friends climbed Cavehill on a beautiful sunny day near Belfast.

Kayleigh and her husband Dave are walking 56 miles over 5 days - 56 miles was the distance Dave had to travel to visit Kayleigh when she was in an MBU.

A huge team from Nottingham's Margaret Oates' MBU completed 318 miles - and some dedicated team members didn't even stop when they were on holiday! The whole team completed the miles with a fabulous family walk. Find out more about what they've been up to and add your support here.

Some of our tiniest fundraisers got involved through Jenny Wren’s Rattle & Rhyme group who completed a wonderful five mile buggy push and toddle.

Emma took part in a 10k race on a sunny Wednesday evening in Northamptonshire.

The fantastic nationwide BleepKind team smashed their original 318 mile target, completing over 400 miles in total, and an incredible 92 hours of activity on bikes, on foot and in pools!

Husband and wife team Georgina and Chris are running 108 miles this month, and were even spotted in action at Trentham Gardens by an eagle eyed member of the APP Team!

Natalie is completing 60 miles over the three months, fitting it in around her already very busy life, and loving every step of the way!

Over in Spain, (yes Miles for Mums and Babies is international now!) Ruth had a 10k race planned but when an injury put a stop to her training and running, her amazing friends, Afra and Sinead, stepped in to ensure it didn't put a stop to her fundraising!
Afra completed a 21k race in early May, and Sinead is taking part in the Edinburgh marathon at the end of the month - what fantastic friends!

Hazel cycled amazing 65 miles in just one day from Dundee to Livingston, via Perth.

Hannah and Ryan are walking and running 156 miles throughout May - 120 miles for the distance their family travelled to be with Hannah when she was ill, and 36 miles for each day she was in the Mother and Baby Unit.

The North Wales Perinatal Mental Health Team have completed a MASSIVE 2000 miles between them and are finishing off in style with a team away day walking up Moel Famau meaning Mother Mountain - the highest hill in the Clwydian range in Denbighshire.

We also have a swimmer on board - up in Scotland Alice is planning on completing 71 miles of swimming in a month - 71 miles representing the number of days she spent in hospital while unwell with postpartum psychosis.

Laura D decided to tie her Miles for Mums and Babies challenge in with a Couch to 5K adventure.

Jennifer and Lee walked from their home to Nottingham MBU - a distance of more than 20 miles - in one day.

Laura C is running a fantastic 50 miles in the month of May.

Becky is running 5k EVERY DAY in May, often pushing a buggy to make it even more challenging!

Sally is walking a huge 100 miles in May and has smashed her fundraising target!

Shelley and friends completed a 5K in Stormont at the end of the month, not only to raise funds but also to highlight the desperate need for an MBU in Northern Ireland.

10 year old Annie has shown real dedication by running a mile every single day during May, not missing a single one and sometimes even having to get up early to fit her mile in before school!

Some people have even longer term plans - Emily aims to walk an amazing 1000 miles this year - and has already completed nearly half of these miles; and Heidi is aiming for 1400 miles of running this year!

It's been a huge effort this year so far by so many, and we're so grateful to all of you!

Looking ahead, Adeline is running a 10K in Battersea Park at the end of June and Robyn will be paddleboarding in Leamington Spa.

So the month might nearly be over but it’s definitely not too late to get involved – Miles for Mums and Babies can happen whenever and however you want it to! So, if you're feeling inspired and have an idea for your own Miles for Mums and Babies challenge, we’d love to hear from you!

APP May Newsletter

New café groups

We’re delighted to announce the launch of two new peer support café groups for women and families affected by postpartum psychosis (PP):

On 22nd July, we’ll be holding our first online meet-up for Muslim women who have experienced psychosis in the perinatal period. The group will be run by Zebunisa and Ramlah from APP’s diverse communities outreach team for Muslim women to share experiences of PP, make new friends as well as find and offer support.

Zebunisa says: “I’m very much looking forward to meeting Muslim women who have been through postpartum psychosis. It’s a topic which isn’t discussed or mentioned enough and hopefully by meeting we can help raise awareness of mental illnesses such as PP following childbirth”.

Ramlah says: “I had PP back in 2014, after the birth of my first child. I am a British African Muslim woman with two beautiful children who I love dearly. Mental health is an open conversation I enjoy being a part of; I hope you are willing to come along and join us in this zoom call.”

If you would like to learn more or join the group, please email: zebunisa@app-network.org, or ramlah@app-network.org.

APP’s first UK-wide café group meeting will be held on 5th July. This friendly, informal meet-up on Zoom is for anyone who has experienced psychosis in the perinatal period, no matter where they live in the UK. To join, sign up on Eventbrite.

We already run nine regional café groups around the UK which meet virtually and face-to-face throughout the year. The groups are attended both by those newly recovering from PP and those who may have recovered many years ago. If you are interested in joining any of the groups – in Wales, Sussex & Hampshire, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Yorkshire, North East & North Cumbria, Lancashire & Cumbria, Birmingham and London - please email app@app-network.org.

We also run a virtual peer support group for dads and co-parents. It meets on the third Wednesday of every month and is for people who have supported a partner through PP. Our grandparents group meets approximately six times a year. If you would like to be on the mailing list for either of these groups, please email app@app-network.org.

New mother and baby unit

Plans for a new Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) - a specialist in-patient treatment unit where mums with mental illness are admitted with their babies - have been announced by Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

The eight-bed unit will be opened in Chester to support new and expectant parents across Cheshire, Merseyside and North Wales.

APP’s National Training Coordinator, Dr Sally Wilson, is working with the Cheshire, Wirral and North Wales NHS teams to ensure the voices of lived experience are heard throughout the whole development process, as well as ensuring the unit helps to meet the needs of families from North Wales.

APP has long been campaigning for more MBU beds in the UK. We’re delighted that this new MBU will improve provision, enabling more mums and babies to stay together. There is work to be done to ensure that this is truly an accessible unit for women in North Wales including Welsh-speaking women and their families.

In many parts of the UK it is still the case that mothers and babies are forced to travel miles for treatment or that mums can be separated from their baby for treatment on an adult psychiatric ward. You can read more about APP’s campaigning for MBUs in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Scotland and add your voice here.

Richard's epic ride

On Monday, the incredible Richard Baish and his team of friends, will set off on a 475-mile, 5-day bike ride from Glasgow down to Oxfordshire. Richard is undertaking this challenge in memory of his wife Alex. He has already raised more than £37,000 so is well on his way to his £50,000 target.

His aim is to ensure healthcare professionals, antenatal educators and parents-to-be are made aware of the signs, symptoms and risks of PP, in the hope that no other families will have to go through what they have. We can’t thank him enough for all he has done already, and we’re all wishing him well on his ride – look out for updates on our social media feeds next week.

Dads and co-parents support

Chris, one of APP’s dads and co-parents peer supporters, took part in a podcast to share his experience of postpartum psychosis from the partner's perspective.

Chris spoke to Dr Rachel Davies, Clinical Psychologist at the Maternity Mental Health Service, for the Southern Health podcast.

Please note, this story talks about the trauma of postpartum psychosis very openly from a dad's perspective. Please take care if these are difficult topics for you at this stage in your recovery.

As Chris describes, PP is a hugely traumatic experience, not just for the women who develop it, but also for their partners and families. APP has produced an information guide for partners available here.

We are also hosting a specialist online training session: Supporting Dads and Co-parents on 14th July for health professionals and anyone interested in learning more about the impact of PP on families. The session will be delivered by the APP team along with dads and co-parents who have been affected by postpartum psychosis; share research related to the impact of PP on partners, as well as better understand the support needs of dads and co-parents.

For more information and to book a place email training@app-network.org.

Big Give - big thank you

A huge thank you to everyone who supported our Big Give campaign during Mental Health Awareness Week – to everyone to donated, and to those who shared our emails and social media posts. We hit our £5,000 target by 8pm on Saturday – nearly two days ahead of the deadline. This will make such a huge difference to our dads and co-parents support project, which is so vital for families affected by PP.

111,000 people reached during Maternal Mental Health Awareness week

The Perinatal Mental Health Partnership’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness week ran from 1st to 7th May, engaging people throughout the world. APP shared content each day and ran events, including Laura Dockrill’s fabulous creative writing workshop, Peer Support sessions reaching the international community, and a research webinar in collaboration with the National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH), Birmingham University’s Institute of Mental Health and the University of East Anglia.

Thank you to everyone who shared our posts – our social media activity reached more than 111,000 people during the week.

We also launched some brand new resources:

A free online toolkit for antenatal educators to support the delivery of information about PP in classes, and our postpartum psychosis signs and symptoms poster available as a free A4 printed poster and as downloadable social media graphics.

Both have been very well received:

“Just wanted to say that your awareness campaign is great. I do talk about postnatal psychosis with my antenatal class parents-to-be but I know a number of them ‘switch off’ when we try to discuss scary subjects. I have supported one family where the mother developed PP”. - Antenatal class provider

“Thank you so much for these downloadable resources. I'm an NCT antenatal teacher and have been spending 5 mins on PP since you encouraged us to, but these resources will help make the message clearer”. - NCT antenatal teacher

British Medical Journal paper on maternal deaths

A new BMJ paper highlights the need for Government action to ensure that all health care professionals are trained to identify and manage risk of suicide in the perinatal period.  An early release of MBRRACE data for 2019-2021 shows that suicide continues to be a leading cause of death, accounting for 8% of all those who died in the first year after birth. Suicide due to postpartum psychosis can be prevented through early detection of the illness, rapid access to specialist inpatient treatment in a Mother and Baby Unit and support services (including peer support) through to full recovery and beyond.

Through NHS consultations this year, APP will call on the UK Government to make training in postpartum psychosis mandatory for all health professionals and first responders who come into contact with new parents.  Lives can be saved by ensuring all parents are aware of postpartum psychosis antenatally and training all professionals to recognise symptoms and access urgent specialist treatment.

The report highlights the continued inequalities in perinatal suicide rates - with social disadvantage and multiple adversity increasing risk significantly.  It is vital that our training reaches professional groups working in disadvantaged communities and that we continue to grow our communities outreach work.

Health professional training

We were delighted to deliver our first face to face APP workforce training day since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic COVID earlier this month with the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (pictured above).

APP’s training is suitable for any professionals working with pregnant and postnatal women and families and draws upon cutting-edge research in postpartum psychosis and bipolar disorder and the real experiences of women and families. Our courses develop knowledge and confidence in identifying and managing risk, developing pregnancy and postnatal management plans, identifying early symptoms, and providing high quality support to women and families from preconception to recovery.

Booking for the next online workshop on Wednesday 15th November is now open on Eventbrite.

Workforce training days can also be commissioned by individual NHS Trusts for their teams. If you would like to learn more about APP’s training offers email training@app-network.org.

Photography help

If you’re a keen photographer in the Manchester area, could you give APP a couple of hours of your time?

We’re looking for someone to take some high-quality pictures of a training event we’re holding on Saturday 8th July.

Please get in touch (app@app-network.org) if you could help. Thank you.

News from regional projects

  • On Wednesday 22nd March, Lucy - one of APP’s Northern Ireland based volunteers - ran an awareness-raising session at a women’s group which was attended by local women as well as health and social care professionals.
    APP staff talked about our work and the need for a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland volunteer Tara shared her experience of PP with the group, many of whom were previously unaware of the condition. Their feedback included:
    “…it’s such a hard thing to talk about. It’s helped me understand a lot better and what to keep an eye out for.”
    “…she is amazing and to be able to come and speak about her experiences so honestly will truly help women as there is still stigma around mental health.”
    Further sessions for other teams of professionals and women are being planned for Northern Ireland.
    Please follow and share our campaign posts for an MBU in Northern Ireland on social media using the hashtag #MumBabyTogetherNI. You can read more about APP’s Northern Ireland campaigning here and if you have experienced PP and live in NI, get in touch.
  • MMHA week Friday 12th May - Annette and Liva (pictured above), from APP’s Lancashire and South Cumbria project, attended an event at Blackpool Victoria Hospital for Maternal Mental Health Awareness day alongside Dad Matters, The Reproductive Trauma Service, maternity services and other organisations. A great opportunity to chat to with health professionals and share ideas about maternal mental health.
  • Mother and Baby Unit Open Day Saturday 13th May - APP joined Ribblemere’s open day held at the partner house on hospital grounds for families who had previously been at the MBU. It was lovely to see how well the mums were doing and how much the babies had grown. There was face painting, a treasure hunt and lots of tea and biscuits!
  • Birmingham-based Peer Support Facilitator, Soukaina, showcased APP’s work at the Chamomile MBU’s recruitment day on 22nd May. Around 200 people visited the event where Soukaina was able to talk about her work providing peer support to women, their partners and families at the MBU as well as across the community teams we work with in the Birmingham and Solihull area.

Media and books

Jocelyn, APP’s Peer Support Facilitator, talked about her work supporting mums at Ribblemere Mother and Baby Unit in Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust’s experience of care week newsletter.

APP’s National Training Coordinator, Sally, explains why it is so important for families to have access to Mother and Baby Units in an article for Wales Online.

APP Ambassador, Catherine Cho, and Diverse Communities Outreach Worker, Zebunisa, talk to CNN about PP for a series on gender inequality.

Zebunisa talks to Tommy’s Pregnancy Hub about postpartum psychosis and antenatal education

Hannah, APP's National Coordinator for NHS Contracts and Regional Projects, spoke to Rochdale Online about the launch of our new partnership with Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) to provide peer support at Andersen Ward Mother and Baby Unit.

APP’s Book Club will be meeting on Wednesday 21st June to talk about Lucy Nichol’s new book, Snowflake: Breaking Through Mental Health Stereotypes and Stigma. Book your free place on the Zoom meet-up here.

Fabulous Fundraisers

Fabulous fundraisers Flora and Mollie (pictured right) took part in the Hackney Half Marathon last Sunday, raising an awesome £3,439 for APP. They were inspired to run by their best friend who was diagnosed with PP after the birth of her son. They trained hard, had a brilliant day and crossed the line together – thank you so much to both of them.

If you feel inspired to take on a running challenge – email us fundraising@app-network.org – we have access to places in events all over the UK, including the London Landmarks Half, the Robin Hood Half, the Yorkshire Marathon, Cardiff Half, Great South Run and the Great Scottish Run, to name just a few. Get in touch if you fancy it!

It’s been our busiest May ever for Miles for Mums and Babies, with individuals and teams taking part all over the UK, covering hundreds of miles and raising thousands of pounds for APP.  You can find a mini round up here, read about Becky’s epic walk here (pictured above), Justine and team’s (pictured below) Cavehill Climb here; Nottingham MBU’s family walk hereJenny Wren’s Rattle & Rhyme group five mile buggy push and toddle; the nationwide BleepKind team smashing their 400mile challenge; plus keep an eye out for lots more updates at the end of the month.

Look out for those purple APP t-shirts if you’re out and about – in the last few weeks they’ve been spotted at the top of Scafell Pike (sported by our amazing fundraiser Lee) and at Trentham Gardens (worn by the fabulous Georgina and Chris – pictured right) Let us know if you see one of our purple tops out in the wild!

Over the next few days you might have an even better chance of spotting one than usual as so many fundraisers will be out and about all across the UK – Hazel will be cycling an amazing 65 miles in one day from Dundee to Livingston; the North Wales Perinatal Mental Health Team will be heading up Moel Famau in Denbighshire; Alice will be starting her huge 71 mile swim; Jennifer and Lee are completing a 26 mile walk to Nottingham MBU on Saturday;  Shelley and friends will be running a 5K in Stormont, NI; and one of our youngest fundraisers, 10 year old Annie, will be completing her mile a day in May challenge in Cornwall.

The month might nearly be over but it’s definitely not too late to get involved – Miles for Mums and Babies can happen whenever and however you want it to! So, if you have an idea for your own Miles for Mums and Babies challenge, we’d love to hear from you!


Exploring Black mothers’ experiences of postpartum psychosis and the role of racism

APP is supporting Emily Monger, a Trainee Clinical Psychologist at the University of Essex, who is exploring the experiences of postpartum psychosis for Black mothers, and how the role of racism and/or discrimination may have impacted women’s recovery for women. She is looking for women in the UK, aged 18+ who identify as being from a Black background and who have experience of PP to take part in her study. To find out more email em21633@essex.ac.uk.

New psychological intervention to support women and families who have experienced postpartum psychosis

A research team at the University of East Anglia, led by Dr Jo Hodgekins, would like to talk to partners of women who have experienced PP. The research team is interested in learning more about what ‘recovery’ means to people with lived experience of psychosis and their families and the kinds of issues people would like additional support with, and what this support might look like. For more information, email j.hodgekins@uea.ac.uk.

The role of sleep in the development of postpartum psychosis

If you have experienced PP, we are working with a team at Birmingham University to find out more about the role of sleep in the development of PP. Anyone who has experienced PP can take part in the pilot study which will involve filling in a number of questionnaires about their sleep patterns. For more information or to take part in the study, email: I.Morales-Munoz@bham.ac.uk or c.a.f.carr@bham.ac.uk

If you are a researcher and would like us to support your research, please get in touch at an early stage in planning: research@app-network.org.

Dates for your diary

APP Yorkshire virtual café group meet up, Thursday 8th June: APP regional café groups webpage.

APP Lancashire & South Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Blackpool, Friday 9th June: APP regional café groups webpage.

APP Lancashire & South Cumbria virtual café group meet up, Monday 12th June: APP regional café groups webpage.

APP Wales virtual café group meet up, Monday 12th June: APP regional café groups webpage.

APP Scotland virtual café group meet up, Tuesday 13th June: APP regional café groups webpage.

APP Lancashire & South Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Lancaster, Wednesday 14th June: APP regional café groups webpage.

APP London virtual café group meet up, Thursday 15th June: APP regional café groups webpage.

APP Lancashire & South Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Preston, Friday 16th June: APP regional café groups webpage.

APP Dads and co-parents virtual café group meet up, Wednesday 21st June: APP regional café groups webpage.

APP Book Club virtual meeting, Wednesday 21st June: Book here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/app-book-club-snowflake-by-lucy-nichol-tickets-641366172487?aff=ebdsoporgprofile&keep_tld=1

APP Northern Ireland virtual café group meet up, Thursday 22nd June: APP regional café groups webpage.

APP Lancashire & South Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Blackburn, Tuesday 27th June: APP regional café groups webpage.

APP Sussex and Hampshire face to face café group meet up, Saturday 1st July: APP regional café groups webpage.

APP UK-wide virtual café group meet up, Wednesday 5th July: APP regional café groups webpage.

APP Muslim women’s virtual café group meet up, Saturday 22nd July: APP regional café groups webpage.

Upcoming conferences and events

Coventry & Warwickshire Perinatal Mental Health Awareness Walk, Sunday 11th June
5km walk at Ryton Pools Country Park. Organised by By Your Side. More information here.

Perinatal Mental Health Services: Improving access and support, Friday 7th July
Virtual conference focusing on improving perinatal mental health services as well as access and support during and beyond Covid-19. Book tickets here.

Improving Safety in Maternity Services, Thursday 13th July

Online conference focussing on a multidisciplinary approach to improving safety in maternity services following the Ockenden Review. Book tickets here.

If you would like to advertise your event here, please get in touch: app@app-network.org.

Hazel's 65 mile cycle

Last weekend, APP volunteer Hazel Oates from Perth in Scotland took on a huge #milesformumsandbabies challenge for APP.

She cycled 65 miles from Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, to the general psychiatric ward at the Murray Royal Hospital in Perth, then on to the Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) at St John's hospital in Livingston - the journey she made when ill with postpartum psychosis.  She was joined along the way by friends and family who were also a big support to her on her recovery journey.

She said:

What an incredible day! It was a real full circle moment, the first time round I was driven to the hospital by a care assistant whilst completely wracked with panic, fear, and strange thoughts. This time I travelled there with some lovely friends and family under my own steam and felt like the journey was reclaimed.

She stopped in at the MBU during her cycle to say hello to staff and give some gifts to the mums there. Hazel has now raised an incredible £5,000 from over 230  supporters - showing how many her message has already reached.

She also bravely chose to share her own personal story with the local media to help raise even more awareness of the illness and the effects it can have. Read her sensitive and powerful article here.

She posted regular updates of her training (and pictures of the beautiful Scottish countryside) on her GoFundMe page - you can see more and add your support for her fantastic achievements here.

Thank you Hazel!

A focus on fundraisers in Northern Ireland

Claire's half marathon in memory of her friend, Orlaith

Claire Tennyson is taking on the Hillsborough Castle & Gardens Half Marathon this July, in memory of her dear friend Orlaith Quinn.

Claire says:

This October will mark five years since Orlaith left us. Orlaith was charismatic, compassionate, fiercely loyal, full of sass and an absolute stunner. There are people in life you instantly connect with, and for me, she was one of them.

Orlaith’s passing was found by a court to be 'foreseeable and preventable' and at the time of the hearing the coroner also called for a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) to be established in Northern Ireland.In the absence of a functioning Executive, the possibility of this being developed in the near future is very slim but APP are continuing to do all they can to push for reform.

In that context, I want to raise money in the interim for this very worthwhile charity to assist in the support they give mothers, mothers-to-be and mothers yet to come.

It is the biggest honour of my life to be a mother and for that privilege to have been so cruelly cut short for Orlaith, and her children, is heart breaking.

So please donate if you can, share to raise awareness, and most importantly of all spare a thought for Orlaith.  She is missed.

You can support Claire here.

Also taking part in the Hillsborough Castle and Gardens Running Festival is APP volunteer Lucy who will be challenging herself to complete the 10K event on the day. Find out more and add your support for Lucy here.

Miles for Mums and Babies in Northern Ireland

We have two teams taking on our #MilesforMumsandBabies Challenge in Northern Ireland this year.

On the 13th May, Justine Lewis and a team of friends will be attempting to climb Cavehill - a challenging 1,207ft peak just outside Belfast.

Justine was diagnosed with PP after the birth of her baby in 2019, and due to the lack of MBU in NI, she was separated from her newborn for 12 days. She is undertaking this challenge to raise awareness of the need for an MBU in the area.

You can add your support for Justine here.

Then, later in the month, Shelley Browne and a group of friends will be running 5k at Stormont to highlight the fact that 1 in 5 women will experience some form of mental health issue in the postnatal period.

Shelley had PP in 2021 and really wants to raise awareness of the need for an MBU in NI. She says: 'I truly believe with this facility, my treatment would of been less traumatic and I would have not have needed to be separated from my baby so early on.'

Support Shelley and her team here.

Not only are our NI APP volunteers getting out and about fundraising for us this year, they're also helping to raise awareness of PP:

Tara helps to raise awareness in Garvargh

On Wednesday 22nd March, one of our Northern Ireland based APP volunteers arranged for an awareness-raising session at a local Women’s Group she attends. She didn’t want to talk about her own experiences with PP herself, as not everyone is comfortable or finds it helpful to do that, which is fine. So, working with APP's events and fundraising staff, she invited along another local APP volunteer who very bravely talked to the group about her experiences of PP.

Staff from APP HQ also zoomed in to the session to explain more generally about PP, the work of APP and the need for an MBU in Northern Ireland. The Women’s Group, which included both local women and health & social care professionals, were very interested and moved to hear the first-hand account of a real women’s experience of PP, as many were previously unaware of the condition.

Very positive feedback was received from the group:

“…she is a brave young woman, speaking out to help others. Thank you.”

“Very brave lady to be able to talk about everything she has been through. Can’t have been easy to do that”

“…she was lovely and very good at speaking about her experience.”

“…she definitely was very good and spoke well, and we got a lot of knowledge about this condition.”

“…it’s such a hard thing to talk about. It’s helped me understand a lot better and what to keep an eye out for.”

“…she is amazing and to be able to come and speak about her experiences so honestly will truly help women as there is still stigma around mental health.”

The local health visitor and social worker were invited to the session and already are asking if further sessions can be put on around the area for other teams of professionals and women around Northern Ireland.


If you'd like to find out more about raising awareness or fundraising in Northern Ireland, or accessing our peer support group, please contact app@app-network.org