Tag Archives: Perinatal mental health

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/


A day in the life of…a Peer Support Facilitator: Natalie

Natalie Thompson has worked with APP since 2019 and is based in our Birmingham and Solihull peer support teams. 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 to wake me up. Steaming hot brew at the ready, I’ll check my emails to see if there’s anything urgent I need to respond to and contact any women I am due to see that day to make sure meeting is still convenient for them.


I’ll make my way over to a local children's centre where I support with NHS Perinatal groups such as Play and Stay and Baby Massage. Sometimes I help facilitate other interventions such as Tree of Life and Five to Thrive.

It's good to have a Peer in the groups to be able to support the mums as someone who’s walked in similar shoes.  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).


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 and another cup of tea!


After lunch, I might attend an MDT meeting - multi disciplinary team meeting. 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 I’ll make sure I get moving and get some fresh air by doing a social walk with one of the women on my caseload who is recovering from PP. These ‘walk and talk’ peer support meetings are great – 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.  From these meet ups I’ll write up my notes to make sure I am able to reflect on any areas I need to follow up on.


I will make time to contact women on my caseload to see if they want to talk through anything over the phone or indeed want to meet up in the coming weeks.

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.  I’ll check out the venue, make sure they have good facilities and open space for little ones, etc. Then, I’ll email participants a little reminder of where café groups take place, and 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.

Samantha’s story: I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder after PP - but it’s not the life sentence I thought it was going to be

I’d never experienced any real mental health problems prior to being diagnosed with postpartum psychosis. However, six years later, following another psychotic episode, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and told I’d need medication for life. But after learning how to better manage my health and wellbeing, I’ve been symptom-free for over seven years. Now, I want to inspire others by showing that, despite your diagnosis, you can go on to live a healthy and happy life.

In 2005 I gave birth for the first time. I had quite a large baby - he was nearly 10 pounds and, following a forceps delivery, I lost a lot of blood. It was a terrifying time, I had to have a blood transfusion, I hadn’t slept for three days straight before the birth and I really believed I was going to die.

Looking back, it definitely felt as though this trauma marked the beginning of my mental health problems.

After the blood transfusion I could feel that something wasn’t right. I even joked that they’d ‘given me the blood of a mad man’. They wanted me to see a psychiatrist at this point but I denied that there was anything wrong with me and they let me go home with my baby.

After getting home my family became really concerned. I trashed the house and experienced visions, so they got the mental health team involved and I ended up being sectioned.

My memories of that time are still quite hazy and I feel I have blocked a lot of it out as a protection mechanism, but some of the visions I experienced are still very vivid. I am certain I was never suicidal and I didn’t have any worrying thoughts about my baby, but things definitely weren’t right with me.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) nearby and my then husband had to make a decision for me to go into a general psychiatric ward, as I wasn’t able to articulate myself how I wanted to be treated.

My experience on the mixed ward was not a good one, and there were some awful incidents that traumatised me. I wasn’t sleeping and was continually walking around the wards apparently putting myself at risk amongst some of the unwell male patients. I remember being restrained and put in seclusion on more than one occasion. I also felt uncomfortable when there were usually just male members of staff on duty especially at night. I had already had a traumatic time giving birth and all of this just added to the distress. This would not have happened had I been sent to where I should have been – an MBU. I ended up staying on the general ward for 28 long days.

I was told that there was a 50% chance of me getting PP again if I had another baby. However, 19 months later, having given birth to my daughter, I felt more prepared.

I had a planned c-section, knew what to look out for and felt more supported. I had a mental health team keep an eye on me throughout the process but refused any type of medication. Thankfully, I didn’t experience PP following my daughter’s birth.

However, after being well for six years, I experienced a psychotic episode, which I believe was linked to the trauma and I ended up back in the psychiatric unit for 28 days again. This was in 2011 and between then and 2016 I ended up being sectioned four more times for subsequent episodes.

I was initially diagnosed with bipolar disorder and then told it was actually schizoaffective disorder which was a real shock as there is so much stigma attached to the label. My family were told that my condition was so severe I would need medication for life, which really affected me as I had always preferred a holistic approach, so I kept stopping the medication they supplied me with. Because of this they were unable to trust me and had to give me monthly injections which I also found traumatic.

My last episode was in 2016 due to a lot of stress in my life within a short period and I was hospitalised for three months. During that time my mind and body totally shut down and I couldn’t communicate with anyone. Luckily, this time, I was in a women only ward.

After this last event I was referred to an extremely good NHS psychiatrist who did not believe that everyone with this condition needed to be on medication for life. He worked with me over a long period of time and carefully weaned me off my medication so that by 2019 I was medication free. It was at this time I decided to work on healing myself and dealing with past traumas through reiki and other holistic therapies.

My experiences inspired me to want to give something back to others, and I now work full time supporting adults with learning difficulties.

Another big achievement was buying my own house in 2020 – something I never believed would be possible.

There’s a lot more to my story but for the last seven years things have been great. I have had my ups and downs like everyone else - especially during Covid and working in a care home. I have dealt with a lot during this time but have managed to stay well. I really want to express that a psychiatric diagnosis doesn’t mean you are written off and it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. I am now leading a normal and happy life and in some ways, I wouldn’t change a thing as it’s made me the strong woman I am today.

Read APP's July 2023 newsletter

Health professional training

New dates announced! Book on to APP’s health professionals training in postpartum psychosis (PP) and stay up to date with best practice care.

Supporting dads and co-parents affected by postpartum psychosis
This half day online workshop, led by Dr Sally Wilson and APP Partners Coordinator Simon O’Mara, is informed by real life experiences of dads and co-parents whose partners have experienced postpartum psychosis. At the end of the workshop: you will have an up-to-date knowledge of the research into the impact of PP on partners; understand the needs of dads and co-parents; and have learned about strategies and interventions to improve support.
Friday 14th July / Zoom
10am - 12.30pm BST
Find out more & book: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/app-training-supporting-dads-and-coparents-tickets-648045761317

Best practice care in postpartum psychosis
This one-day online course draws upon cutting-edge research in postpartum psychosis and bipolar disorder and is informed by the experiences of women and families. The course will develop knowledge, understanding, and confidence in managing this severe form of postnatal mental illness.
Wednesday 15th November / Zoom
Full day training
Early bird (to 31st July) £165, full price £195
Find out more & book: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/app-training-managing-postpartum-psychosis-for-health-professionals-tickets-496307337607

Essential knowledge for preventing maternal suicide
The Alex Baish Memorial Lecture: a free webinar for GPs, midwives, antenatal educators and frontline health professionals
Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death in the UK and rates are increasing nationally. This free lunchtime webinar aimed at frontline health professionals will outline the actions needed to support and protect women who develop the condition. The webinar will include a Q&A session with APP’s clinical, academic and lived experience experts.
Wednesday 18th October / Zoom
12pm – 1.30pm BST
Register your interest at: training@app-network.org

Supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic families affected by postpartum psychosis
This new online session led by APP’s National Training Coordinator, Dr Sally Wilson, and APP’s Diverse Communities Outreach Team, will focus on supporting women and families from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities who develop postpartum psychosis. By the end of the session, you will have knowledge of the support and information needs of women from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities; and have considered strategies to remove barriers and improve care.
Thursday 16th November / Zoom
12pm – 2.30pm BST
Find out more & book: www.eventbrite.com/e/supporting-black-asian-and-ethnic-minority-families-affected-by-pp-tickets-671354869487

Northern Ireland campaigning update

In Northern Ireland we’re waiting for news of the next step for a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU). We campaigned hard last year for public, professional and government support for the unit. The government strategic review due in the spring has been delayed until summer and we’ve heard that’s because all five Health Trusts were keen for it to be in their area.

With no Government in Northern Ireland, and no Health Minister, even when a Trust is chosen to develop a business case, nothing can be done. But we’re not going to let an MBU fall off the agenda.

We’ve got plans to lobby when politicians are back from their summer break, and we’re staying in touch with journalists who have reported on this before.

We’ve got three questions we need answered:

  • What’s the timeline for building and opening an MBU?
  • What’s the budget and where will the money come from?
  • What is going to be done for mums who need admission in the meantime?

To really make our case, we need support from women in Northern Ireland who’ve experienced postpartum psychosis. We know it’s much harder to ignore people who have real stories to tell, so we’re reaching out to anyone who is prepared to talk to media - even anonymously - or to talk to an MLA about their experience.

Please also get in touch if you used to live in Northern Ireland and had access to an MBU elsewhere in the UK that you wouldn’t have had at home - we’d love you to share your story. APP volunteer, Tara, recently shared her experience of postpartum psychosis (PP) in this podcast.

We’ll support you through the process. Even if you don’t feel certain about talking, you can give us a call to discuss it. Get in touch with Ellie here.

It’s just not fair that women have to leave Northern Ireland to get the help that’s available in all other parts of the UK, and we’re determined to change that.


We are recruiting

APP is recruiting casual Peer Support Worker(s) to join our innovative collaborative project with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust providing peer support to inpatients at Birmingham Mother and Baby Unit (MBU).

We’re looking for people with lived experience of postpartum psychosis to help support women, one-to-one and through small group activities, at the MBU. Peer Support Workers also spend time talking to partners and families of women during the acute illness phase, sharing information, giving hope and signposting to APP’s online support, community forum, and information. Part of the role will be spent helping to run monthly café groups in the Birmingham area and - working in collaboration with Black Country Healthcare Foundation Trust - at various locations around that region. You don’t need to have experience of peer supporting. Training will be provided.

Full details of how to apply for the role are on our website. The application deadline is midnight on 21st August 2023.

Scotland Mother and Baby Unit petition

We know that some mums in Scotland who suffer from postpartum psychosis are treated in general psychiatric wards away from their baby and family.

There are currently only two specialist Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) in Scotland based in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

APP believes every family affected by PP should have access to specialist care. MBU beds accessible to women in the North of Scotland are vital.

You can help us by adding your name to this petition, developed by Lesley, one of our Scotland volunteers, which is currently under consideration by the Scottish Government. Adding your name will help the Scottish government understand how strongly we feel about access to specialist care – and keeping mums and babies together: https://petitions.parliament.scot/petitions/PE2017


Celebrating Perinatal event

On 24th May, APP attended the "Celebrating Perinatal" event, organised by Midlands Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust and North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust.  It was a wonderful occasion to celebrate all the work done in the region over recent years, and to look back to the start of services in the North Staffs area in the 1980s.

APP’s Hannah Bissett, National NHS Contracts Coordinator, Jo Derry, Black Country Peer Support Facilitator, and Jenny Stevenson, National Online Peer Support Coordinator joined Dr Giles Berrisford, APP's Chair of Trustees, who gave a national update on the progress of perinatal services as Specialty Advisor PMH for NHS England. Hannah is pictured above with Harriet Lambah-Heap (ward manager at Brockington Parent & Baby Unit).

Color Obstacle Rush

On Saturday, June 17th, a group of 12 APP staff and families (pictured above) from the north west took part in the Color Rush at Manchester. It was such a fun event consisting of lots of coloured powder, foam, giant inflatable obstacles and maybe some running.
As a group, they managed to raise £1,086. There is still a chance to donate here.
We are thinking of doing this again next year and there are various locations all over the world! So please get in touch with fundraising@app-network.org if you’d be interested.

Professor Louise Howard, OBE

Congratulations to Professor Louise Howard who was awarded an OBE in the first King’s Birthday Honours last month for services to women's mental health.

Louise is Professor Emerita in Women’s Mental Health at King’s College London. Her research programmes aim to improve mental health service policy and practice for women. She led research that informed the updated NICE guideline on how to identify and treat perinatal mental illness and her work has also informed pregnancy planning tools commissioned by NHS England and Public Health England.

Fabulous fundraisers

Our amazing supporter Lee Smith is continuing his epic 12 month, 12 challenge fundraiser. He’s already taken part in several running events, including a back-to-back Total Warrior event followed by the Great Run 10k, he’s also climbed Scarfell Pike, run 5k a day for a month and just last month, he and his wife Jess climbed Ben Nevis.  To mark their joint achievement, their daughter made them this beautiful book as a present – she’s so proud of them and we are too. Add your support to Lee’s incredible campaign here.

Ultra Event!

We have our first APP ultra runner in action this weekend! Michael Henderson-Sowersby is taking on the mammoth 100km ‘Race to the Stones’ on 8th July, raising money for APP in memory of his school friend Alex Baish, and for another charity close to his heart - Devizes & District Opportunity Centre.  Find out more about his epic training efforts and add your support here. Good luck, Michael!

Miles for Mums and Babies

Another huge thank you to everyone who took part in our Miles for Mums and Babies challenge this year – donations are still coming in and challenges are still underway, but already our amazing fundraisers and their supporters have raised more than £20,000! This will have such an incredible impact on the work we can do supporting mums and families. Thank you so much. You can read more about our Miles for Mums and Babies adventures here.

Looking for your next challenge?

There are dozens of running events going on this October all over the country – half marathons in cities including Oxford, Glasgow, Manchester, Portsmouth and London (including the beautiful Royal Parks Half); full marathons in Chester and York, 10 milers in Leicester and Yorkshire, 10kms in Guildford, Tatton and Glasgow, and inflatable 5k fun runs in Huntingdon and Warwickshire – wherever you are and whatever level of challenge you’re looking for – we’ll find the event for you! For most events, there’s a small registration fee of just £25 and a minimum fundraising target that ranges from £100-350 depending on the race. There's still plenty of time to get your training in before October. Tempted? Email fundraising@app-network.org and we’ll sort you out with a free APP running vest and lots of support and encouragement!


We’re very excited to have been donated more beautiful suncatchers, all handmade with love and care by our wonderful APP supporter, Peter the Glass.  Numbers are very limited so if you’d like one, get your order in quickly. More info here.


You can help improve care for the future by supporting research into PP. Please join our lived experience network, and then contact the researchers for information on each study.

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.

The causes and triggers of postpartum psychosis
The National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH) and Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) are working together to understand more about the genetic factors, and other causes and triggers of severe mental illness during pregnancy and following childbirth.

You are invited to take part in this research if you have experienced postpartum psychosis or other severe mental illness around childbirth. For more information and to sign up to participate, please visit this page.

Enhancing recovery from 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
APP is working with researchers at the Institute of Mental Health, Birmingham University, led by Dr Isabel Morales-Munoz, to investigate the role of sleep in postpartum psychosis (PP). If you have experienced PP, you can help by completing questionnaires about sleep patterns. To take part, register with APP’s Lived Experience network, and email: 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 Lancashire and south Cumbria virtual café group meet up, Monday 10th July: APP regional café groups webpage

APP London virtual café group meet up, Monday 10th July: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Grandparents virtual café group meet up, Tuesday 11th July: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Lancashire and south Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Lancaster, Wednesday 12th July: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Yorkshire virtual café group meet up, Thursday 13th July: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Lancashire and south Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Blackpool, Friday 14th July: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Dads and co-parents virtual café group meet up, Wednesday 19th July: APP regional café groups webpage

Birth Trauma Awareness Week, 16th-22nd July: www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk

APP Wales virtual café group meet up, Thursday 20th July: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Lancashire and south Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Preston, Friday 21st July: APP regional café groups webpage

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

APP Black Country face to face café group meet up at Walsall Arboretum, Wednesday 26th July: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Lancashire and south Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Blackburn, Friday 28th July: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Lancashire and south Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Preston, Saturday 12th August: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Black Country face to face café group meet up at Walsall Arboretum, Wednesday 23rd August: APP regional café groups webpage


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.

Suicide Bereavement: Practical Applications Conference, from Tuesday 5th September
Fourth annual conference organised by Harmless featuring a series of live webinars on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The theme of this year’s event is ‘2 steps forward, 1 step back. Book tickets here.

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

APP launches postpartum psychosis toolkit for antenatal education providers

To mark Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (1 – 7 May 2023), Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP), the national charity for women and families affected by postpartum psychosis, has launched a free online toolkit to support antenatal educators.

The toolkit has been designed to support educators in delivering basic, potentially life-saving information following YouGov research, commissioned by APP, that discovered only 6% of expectant parents had heard about postpartum psychosis during their antenatal class. Meanwhile, in another survey conducted by APP, 88% of antenatal educators said they believed that PP should be discussed in classes.

Respondents outlined the barriers they faced in terms of delivering information, and APP’s toolkit is a direct response to this, ensuring that educators feel equipped, knowledgeable and empowered to share this invaluable content.

Postpartum psychosis (PP) is a debilitating postnatal mental illness that can occur out of the blue after having a baby. 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 1,400 women and their families every year in the UK and is a medical emergency. However, it is eminently treatable, and women go on to make a full recovery with the right support.

Naomi Gilbert, Campaigns Coordinator and Peer Supporter, APP, said: Our antenatal awareness campaign is a response to the voices of lived experience – the pleas women, partners and their families have made. ‘If only I had known something…I would have been able to call for help sooner’ or ‘I wouldn’t have been so afraid of what was happening.'

“Just having some basic knowledge, including the fact that the illness is highly treatable, can help families to recognise the signs of PP, seek help sooner and feel less afraid knowing that there is hope of full recovery.”

Dr Jess Heron, CEO, Action on Postpartum Psychosis, added: “We know that antenatal educators have a lot to cover in an already packed schedule of classes, which is why we wanted to find out how to get this life-saving information out there in an easy to use and downloadable format. The government are aiming to halve maternal deaths by 2030, and in order to do this we need to address maternal mental health. Suicide is still the leading cause of maternal death – and we are not yet making progress.

Of the women and families we spoke to in our network, almost all said they would have greatly benefitted from having just some basic awareness of PP. They also suggested that a quick 3–5-minute conversation could be all it takes to make the difference.

“For expectant parents, just having a bit of knowledge that these unusual symptoms can occur, and knowing where to get help is incredibly important. Antenatal educators who would like to learn more about postpartum psychosis can access our specialist webinars and our training for healthcare professionals which is popular across a range of disciplines – from midwives and perinatal mental health teams to first responders more broadly.”

To access Talking About Postpartum Psychosis – A Toolkit for Antenatal Educators – click here

APP April Newsletter - Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week special

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (MMHAW) runs from Monday 1st to Sunday 7th May. We would love to get as many people involved as possible.

We want more people talking about postpartum psychosis (PP) - the signs and symptoms to look for, and what’s needed to support recovery. We want to ensure that no-one affected by PP feels alone and everyone knows where they can turn to for help and support. We’ll be sharing personal stories, signposting to support, information and advice, and raising awareness of PP.

In addition to #MaternalMentalHealthAwarenessWeek, organised by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, there will be a focused World Maternal Mental Health Day (Wed 3rd) and Pregnancy & Postpartum Psychosis #PPPAwareness Day (Fri 5th). The theme for the full week is 'Together In A Changing World'.

For updates follow @ActionOnPP on FacebookInstagramTwitter and LinkedIn. Read on for details of the special events we’ve organised in support of the week.

Events for Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week

Creative Writing - A Lived Experience Workshop with Laura Dockrill, Monday 1st May 12.30 – 1.30pm

If you have personal experience of PP, join this free and fun lunchtime creative writing workshop on zoom with Author and APP Ambassador, Laura Dockrill. In a warm, gentle, no-pressure environment, Laura will explore writing for you and your wellbeing. All you need is something to write with and on.

Join APP’s network and book your place here.

The session is free – donations are welcome.

If you have experience of postpartum psychosis, I HIGHLY recommend joining this soul nourishing session. Whether you are a poet, writer, or have never written a jot before, Laura will nurture your creative side in a low stress, fun environment. Dr Jess Heron

Free webinar: 'Postpartum Psychosis: From research to recovery' – Thursday 4th May 12-1pm

Join APP and the National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH) to hear about the latest postpartum psychosis research and find out how you can help.

You’ll hear from researchers and those with Lived Experience, including: Director of the National Centre for Mental Health Cardiff, Professor Ian Jones; APP Chief Executive, Dr Jess Heron (University of Birmingham); Dr Sally Wilson (APP Research & Training Coordinator); and Laura Dockrill (APP Ambassador) as well as from researchers from: the National Centre for Mental Health; University of East Anglia; and University of Birmingham’s Institute of Mental Health about a range of new studies.

Find out more and book here.

Pregnancy and Postpartum Psychosis Awareness Day – Friday 5th May

The importance of Peer Support for PP

Join APP and US charities Cherished Mom and Postpartum Support International for one of three global virtual meet-ups for women with experience of PP as part of Pregnancy & Postpartum Psychosis Awareness Day 2023 (1am, 10.30am and 5pm BST).

The APP peer support team will co-facilitate the 10.30am and 5pm sessions (UK time).

If you would like to meet others and find out more about PP around the world, book your free place on Eventbrite here.

New postpartum psychosis toolkit for antenatal educators

During Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, we will launch a free online toolkit to support midwives and antenatal educators.

The toolkit will help antenatal educators deliver brief, but potentially life-saving, information about postpartum psychosis (PP) to parents-to-be in antenatal classes.

We’ve worked with families affected by PP and antenatal education providers to produce the toolkit.

A YouGov Survey in 2021 found that only 6% of expectant parents were given information about PP at their antenatal classes, but a survey carried out by APP in 2022 found that 88% of antenatal providers felt it should be included.

A big thank you everyone who has been involved so far. Special thanks go to Richard Baish, his friends and family for supporting the development of this toolkit.

Follow @ActionOnPP across social media channels to hear when the toolkit is launched and please help us share the news.

During the week, you can listen to APP’s Dr Sally Wilson and Naomi Gilbert talking to PMHP’s Eve Canavan about the research behind the campaign and read Zebi's blog in collaboration with pregnancy charity, Tommy’s showing the importance of hearing about PP before it happens.

Signs and Symptoms posters available

Our Signs and Symptoms graphic has been updated and is now also available as an A4 printed or downloadable poster.

If you could display one in your maternity hospital, GP surgery, mother and baby group, Mother and Baby Unit, or perinatal mental health clinic, please get in touch.

We can send you up to 10 posters free but if you feel you could support us to cover the cost of postage you can donate here.

Northern Ireland (NI) Mother and Baby Unit campaign

We’re continuing to work with NI charity Maternal Advocacy and Support and 40 other organisations to campaign for a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) in Northern Ireland.

Watch the video of our petition hand in here.

The government scoping report into a NI MBU due out in March has been delayed until the end of May. We look forward to reviewing plans, timeframes and interim solutions for families with PP in NI whilst we await a NI MBU.

If you’re in NI, join our peer support group to meet others, give and receive peer support, and help with campaigning. You could also join #TeamAPP at the Hillsborough Castle & Gardens Running Festival on 30th July this year. Email fundraising@app-network.org for more info or to reserve your place.

APP café groups during Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week

Our regional peer support café groups for women and families affected by PP meet monthly and are a mixture of virtual sessions and face to face meet-ups. You can attend whether you are newly recovering or recovered many years ago. They are a social place to chat, support each other, as well as to share ideas about improving the future for others affected by PP.

Our Black Country and Wales café groups are meeting in Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. If you are interested in joining these or any of the other APP café groups – in Sussex & Hampshire, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Yorkshire, North East, Lancashire & Cumbria, and London - please fill out this form or email app@app-network.org. New members are always welcome.

We also run a virtual peer group for dads and co-parents on the third Wednesday of every month for people who have supported a partner through PP. The next meeting is on 17th May. Our grandparents group meets approximately six times a year, with the next meeting on 11th May. If you would like to be on the mailing list for either of these groups, please email app@app-network.org.

You can find the dates of the next meet ups for all our café groups here.

Health Professional Training

A new date for APP online Health Professional training in postpartum psychosis has been released.

Book for the 15th November course here.

Onsite training days can also be commissioned by individual NHS Trusts or other workplaces for their teams. To find out more, get in touch: training@app-network.org

Plan your Big Bake for APP

Could you organise a Big Bake this May and help raise funds for APP?

Host an informal afternoon tea, have a coffee break together or organise a bake-off competition with friends, family or colleagues. It’s a lovely way to start a conversation about mental health and PP and raise funds for APP at the same time.

If you pay it in between 15th-22nd May using the following link, the amount you raise will be DOUBLED with match funding from The Big Give Kind²Mind 2023 campaign.

For more info and a Big Bake fundraising pack, email fundraising@app-network.org

Miles for Mums and Babies

A huge thank you to everyone who has signed up to be part of our Miles for Mums and Babies challenge this year – we’ve got more people than ever before involved –  individuals and teams all over the UK running, walking, swimming, cycling and toddling hundreds of miles to raise awareness and funds.

Well done to Rob Rowe (pictures above, left hand side) and Natalie Varley (pictures above, right hand side) who have both completed marathons for APP this month - Rob running in Brighton and Natalie in Manchester - between them they raised over £3,000 for APP! An amazing achievement - both were first time marathon runners!

We’ll be posting a round-up of everyone taking part in Miles for Mums and Babies soon so keep an eye on our social media pages and add your support if you can – and it’s definitely not too late to join in if you’d like to – email fundraising@app-network.org.

The Big Give

We’re delighted to have been successful again in applying for match funding from the Big Give – this means all donations we receive via our Big Give Kind²Mind 2023 campaign page between 12pm on the 15th May and 12pm on 22nd May will be DOUBLED! We’ll send another reminder nearer the time but do share our social media posts if you spot them – this year our campaign is focused on support for dads and co-parents.

Thank you so much to everyone who is fundraising for APP at the moment – we are so grateful to all of you and your supporters. Every donation makes a real difference.

Dates for your diary

APP Black Country face to face café group meet up at Walsall Arboretum, Wednesday 3rd May: APP regional café groups webpage

World Maternal Mental Health Day, Wednesday 3rd May: www.wmmhday.postpartum.net

APP Wales virtual café group meet up, Thursday 4th May: APP regional café groups webpage

International Day Of The Midwife, Friday 5th May: www.internationalmidwives.org/icm-events/international-day-of-the-midwife-2023.html

APP Lancashire and south Cumbria virtual café group meet up, Monday 8th May: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Lancashire and south Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Lancaster, Wednesday 10th May: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Grandparents virtual café group meet up, Thursday 11th May: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Lancashire and south Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Blackpool, Friday 12th May: APP regional café groups webpage

Mental Health Awareness Week, 15th-21st May: www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/public-engagement/mental-health-awareness-week

The Big Give match funding campaign, 15th-22nd May: Big Give Kind²Mind 2023

APP Dads and co-parents virtual café group meet up, Wednesday 17th May: APP regional café groups webpage

APP London virtual café group meet up, Thursday 18th May: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Lancashire and south Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Preston, Friday 19th May: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Northern Ireland virtual café group meet up, Monday 22nd May: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Lancashire and south Cumbria face to face café group meet up in Blackburn, Tuesday 23rd May: APP regional café groups webpage

APP Sussex and Hampshire virtual café group meet up, Wednesday 24th May: APP regional café groups webpage

Volunteers' Week, 1st-7th June: www.volunteersweek.org

APP Sussex and Hampshire virtual café group meet up, Thursday 8th June: APP regional café groups webpage

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

APP Lancashire and south Cumbria virtual café group meet up, Monday 12th June: APP regional café groups webpage

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

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

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 

Miles for Mums and Babies 2023!

A big shout out to everyone who has signed up for our Miles for Mums and Babies challenge so far! We’ve got more people than ever before ready to run, walk, swim and cycle hundreds of miles to raise awareness of PP and funds for APP.

Fundraisers all over the UK are taking part – here’s just a little taste of what’s going on during May…

In ScotlandAlice in Dundee (pictured right) will be swimming 71km in 28 days, and Hazel in Perthshire will be cycling 65 miles in a single day later this month.

In Wales the BCUHB perinatal mental health team in North Wales who have a team of 18 aiming to cover 154 miles during May; Laura in Cardiff who is planning to walk 50 miles over the month; and Heidi, a perinatal mental health nurse in Monmouthshire who is taking on a huge 1400 miles by the end of 2023 to represent the number of women who experience PP each year.

We’re delighted to have lots going on in Northern Ireland too, with Justine and Shelley getting friends and family on board to take part in their hiking and running challenges.

And across England there are individuals and teams taking part in all sorts of different ways, including…

Jennifer Dawson who’s taking on TWO challenges – one walking 26 miles with her husband Lee and another with her Rattle and Rhyme group – who'll be getting together to toddle 5k!

Jenny and Lee aren’t the only husband and wife team working together to reach a Miles for Mums and Babies target though, we also have Hannah and Ryan in Leeds planning to walk and run 156 miles - 120 miles for the distance their family travelled to the MBU and 36 miles for each day Hannah was in the unit; and Georgina and Chris who are aiming for 108 miles - the distance to and from their nearest MBU.

Most of those taking part have chosen a number of miles that has a meaning to them - Natalie (pictured right) has chosen to walk 60 miles as that represents the distance to and from her home and the MBU she spent time in - the journey her husband had to make to be able to come and see her and their baby.

Rebecca (pictured top) is planning a mammoth 43 mile walk in a single day, with the aim of raising £2400 - the number of mums who will have been diagnosed with PP in the two years since she herself was diagnosed. And she's very close to her huge target goal already!

We’re also really delighted to have the Blue Minds and BleepKind network involved this year, taking on an epic 318 mile challenge, which is already underway!

And having whole teams getting on board is just wonderful - including the Leicester Partnership Trust Perinatal Mental Health Team who are doing a mix of walking, running and swimming; and the Margaret Oates MBU in Nottingham who will be walking, pushing buggies, toddling, running, cycling and even getting their four legged furry friends involved to reach 318 miles (which is the distance from the most westerly MBU in the UK to the most easterly).

And this isn't even everyone who has planned to get involved - we'll keep posting updates throughout the month.  A HUGE thank you to everyone who has signed up so far and to everyone who has supported them already.

It's never too late to get involved in you'd still like to, just email fundraising@app-network.org and we'll send you a free Miles for Mums and Babies pack.

In memory of Margaret Oates

Here at APP we have all been deeply saddened to hear of the death of the hugely inspirational Dr Margaret Oates.

A Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist at Queen’s Medical College, Nottingham, Dr Oates made significant strides in perinatal mental health care, positively impacting many women and families in the UK and beyond. Indeed, so significant is her legacy that there are two MBUs named after her - one in Nottingham and one in East London.

Dr Giles Berrisford, APP Trustee said:

“Dr Margaret Oates OBE has been an enormous inspiration to many throughout her life. She dedicated her working life to improving the lives of women and families affected by perinatal mental illnesses. She recognised the importance of the obstetric pathway and the psychiatric pathway working together, so that no women are left behind. She led to the opening of the Mother and Baby unit in Nottingham which is now one of two eponymously named MBUs in England – the other being in Homerton, East London

Dr Oates worked tirelessly to influence national policy– changing and shaping maternal mental health forever. She was the 1st Chair of the Clinical Reference Group for perinatal mental health for NHS Specialised Commissioning, advising on how MBUs should be commissioned.

The expansion of services around the UK since 2016 is a direct legacy of Dr Oates’s inspirational work. She has inspired many to pursue careers and to develop services in perinatal mental health. We have a lot to be very thankful to Dr Margaret Oates for and she will be greatly missed.”

Dr Oates was the pioneer behind the sub specialty of perinatal psychiatry and set up the specialist faculty within the Royal College of Psychiatrists. She was also responsible for developing the work of the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in relation to mental health, identifying the impact of mental illness on the mortality of women during pregnancy and into the postpartum period.

She also established a series of ‘red flag’ warning signs to enable healthcare professionals to identify women at risk of perinatal mental illness, and established the Perinatal Quality Network as part of the College Centre for Quality Improvement, embedding lived experience at the heart of the system.

Dr Jess Heron, APP CEO said:

“Dr Oates worked with the same zeal and dogged determination whether she was addressing care inadequacies for an individual woman or putting systems in place which would improve the care of all women with severe postnatal mental illness.

She worked hard to ensure that perinatal mental illness and suicide were included in the confidential enquiries into maternal deaths, giving us a clearer picture as to the devastating impact of PP - and other serious mental health problems - on the lives of women and families nationally.

Her advocacy and truly anarchic approach has undoubtedly saved lives, and we her legacy will live on for generations to come”.

Members of our volunteer community who have been personally supported by Dr Oates have also shared their words and memories, including Cheryl McAulay-Wainwright who said:

“I first met Margaret in 2004 when I was suffering with postpartum psychosis. Margaret was my consultant at the time and I will be forever be deeply grateful for the care that she provided me. Her smile was warming and made me feel safe and at home. It was during a time where I had lost myself - and she helped me find me again.
I went on to work within the Hopewood Mother and Baby Unit when it was first opened and was named after Margaret Oates. I was lucky enough to spend time working alongside her colleagues who would often talk about what a presence Margaret was and the huge developments she made for National Perinatal services and the care that women received.
I wouldn't be where I am today without the care that Margaret and her team gave to me.
Dr Margaret Oates OBE is a true inspiration and will be missed by the women and children she cared for and of course many more.”

Our thoughts are with Dr Oates’ family. We will never forget all that she has done in the field of perinatal psychiatry and beyond.

Ruth’s story: We had to travel from Spain to Scotland during lockdown to access an MBU

We’d been living in Spain for over ten years when I fell pregnant. My husband, Jamie, worked away a lot on an oil rig but we had a good network, had planned for Jamie to be home for a couple of months around the birth and the pregnancy was really straightforward. I felt lucky.

Our son was born in the September, and, when Jamie returned to work in the December, I made a return trip home to Ireland to visit family with our new baby.

While I was in Belfast I started struggling with bad joint pain. I’d had arthritis as a young child but hadn’t had any problems for years so it was a bit of a shock. I ended up in A&E and it made breastfeeding and holding my son really uncomfortable too. I was in so much agony.

When I got back home I got some treatment for the arthritis and everything seemed to settle back down. My baby was sleeping well, Jamie was working in Norway, everything felt like it was going to be fine.

Then, by the middle of February, I suddenly stopped sleeping and began panicking about everything going wrong – thinking that Jamie, might lose his job, worrying that there was something wrong with our son. I made the rash decision to move our son into his own room, and I would spend whole nights just staring at the baby monitor and listening to the buzz of it.

My mum came to stay and she remembers that I was just pacing the flat saying things like our lives are falling apart; there’s something wrong with the baby; he’s not well; he’ll be taken off us and I’ll be put in jail.

I went to the health centre and got an emergency appt with the nurse who prescribed diazepam to calm me down. It was around the time of lockdown so when I needed to go back it was a different nurse that I saw. The second time I was prescribed antidepressants, too.

Jamie was away at the time and I was continually phoning my best friend and cousin because I needed someone to listen. I was convinced there was something wrong with the baby, and I began struggling with breastfeeding and then bottle feeding – getting myself into this vicious cycle of feeling like I couldn’t feed my baby at all.

My friend was concerned and she made an appointment with a psychologist at the nearby clinic. I remember taking my notebook with me because I was writing down pages and pages of numbers and dates relating to my baby and his feeding patterns and routines.

Back at home, I would just lay down on the floor and cry and I was having regular panic attacks. But outside of the home, I was doing all of the right things – trying to feed him, dressing him. It probably all seemed fairly normal on the outside but in the background I was panicking, not sleeping, not eating and obsessing over my baby.

The next thing I remember is waking up in hospital…

Apparently, one morning, around 4 or 5am, I’d left the flat, left the door open, with my baby asleep and my mum sleeping on the sofa. I had no shoes on and I got into my car. I drove along the motorway and parked my car on the hard shoulder and got out. What happened after that was devastating. The only thing I can remember is someone saying quick get her a blanket. Then I remember waking up in a hospital.

I’d walked out in front of a lorry. Luckily, I survived. I had some very deep cuts, some bad injuries and I needed stitches in my head. I had some deep wounds on my foot and scars all over my back.

It does cross my mind from time to time about how the driver is today. It must have been such a huge trauma for him and I truly hope he has he recovered from it.

I was quickly transferred to the psych ward where I was sat outside in a wheel chair, covered in blood. We were waiting hours and hours for the psych team to assess me. They eventually decided to admit me and I was taken into a shared room where my family had to leave me due to lockdown rules.

My family were looking after my son and Jamie, who was working in Mexico at the time, flew back home. Meanwhile I was in the psych ward, unable to shower properly because I couldn’t get my injuries wet, feeling as though I was in a prison, with no furnishings or comfortable surroundings and unbelievably tall walls with barbed wire so nobody could escape.

I don’t feel I received particularly good treatment while I was there. And I remember another girl who was in there suggesting I start to write things down to keep track of the doctors I was speaking to and the meds I was put on. When my sister and Jamie came in to see me I saw a psychiatrist who granted me permission to go home under my husband’s care.

We then went into full lockdown and my husband had to try to look after both me and our son at the same time. I think he has so much strength to have been able to put up with what I now know was absolutely shocking and both terrifying behaviour.

The team of psychiatrists would come to our house twice a week and I had some zoom calls with my psychologist during lockdown. They were trying to find the right combination of meds for me but apparently they weren’t working and they suggested I go back to the psych ward without my baby – and of course no visitors were allowed because of lockdown, so I really didn’t want to go back there.

One of my friends in the UK who worked in health contacted Jamie because she had found my messages really concerning. She had heard about Mother and Baby Units in the UK and Jamie, who’s Scottish, got in touch with APP to find out more and then made contact with an MBU in Glasgow. They said I could be admitted.

Jamie had to drive us all from Spain to Calais and then to a friend’s in Cumbria before reaching Stirling, where he immediately got me an emergency doctor’s appointment. By that point my paranoia and symptoms were so bad the doctor called an ambulance and I was immediately admitted to the MBU with my baby.

Because I’d come from Spain I had to have ten days in isolation, so Jamie went back to work to bring in some money because nobody was allowed to visit me anyway.

I ended up spending five months in the MBU. I was admitted in the May, and discharged in the October.

I remember in the MBU there were quite big rooms and we had our own bathrooms, a nice play area and garden with picnic benches and windmills. They organised things like crafts, cookery and pram walks which I enjoyed, and I remember me and one of the other girls used to make apple crumbles.

Unfortunately, because I still didn’t seem to be improving, I had to have ECT. I was so nervous and I appealed it but Jamie gave permission because he thought it was my only chance of getting better.

The doctor I saw before each ECT session was so lovely, I remember he always reassured me. I never got to know his name and I’ve always wanted to thank him for his kindness. I had 18 ECT treatments in total. The only thing I complained about was having a sore head, but apparently that’s quite common.

When my son was due to turn one, however, the MBU had to plan my discharge, because they were only funded to look after mums with babies less than a year old. I started going to my in-laws’ house on weekends and eventually was recovered enough to have a full discharge. However, I caught Covid, so we had to isolate in an Air BnB for a while which was really tough. Eventually, we made it back to Spain in a far better position than we had been when we left.

I’m still on medication today, but just a low dose of antidepressants. I’ve stopped the antipsychotics and things are slowly getting back to some kind of normality.

My son started going to nursery and he’s picking up both Spanish and English, which makes me so proud. And I went back to work in the September of 2021, so I had time to get back into normal life, start exercising again and focusing on me.

Looking back, it was a very scary and intense period, especially with it all happening during lockdown. But now Jamie and I are out the other side, we are both really keen to raise awareness, because nobody in my family had even heard of PP before I was diagnosed.

I’ve trained to be a peer supporter with APP, so I can share my experience and hope with other families who are going through what we did. I know that when Jamie first spoke with APP’s peer support lead, Ellie, when I was really ill, it made such a difference so I hope that we can now pass on that support. Just knowing that someone else has been where you are and come out the other side makes all the difference.