Tag Archives: postpartum psychosis

Natalie’s story: If I had known what postpartum psychosis was, I might have asked for help.

I knew there was a possibility that I might get postnatal depression after giving birth and that really scared me. But nobody ever told me about the possibility of developing postpartum psychosis (PP).

In 2013 I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Maya. Everything felt amazing - almost magical. It felt like a miracle giving birth to this precious baby and I just couldn’t believe I was now a mum.

But things began to unravel really quickly, and I became very unwell.

Looking back, the first sign of PP for me was extreme happiness. Yes, you may think that is completely normal, but I was actually hysterically laughing at times while watching my baby. My mood felt high, as though I was drunk with excitement and my whole body felt like it had been pumped with adrenaline.

My mind and thoughts began to race constantly. I was speaking to anyone who would listen but I wasn’t making sense. It was like my mind was too tired to think but the words continued to jumble out of my mouth.

I began to feel stressed about the aftercare I received in hospital after my baby was born. The experience would play over and over in my mind so I told a midwife who suggested I write everything down.

Each day passed and new topics would pop into my head. I felt like my brain was going to explode and I began writing down all of my thoughts, feelings and ideas into a long essay. At one point I believed I had found the answer to why so many mums were getting postnatal depression, feeling suicidal and having their babies taken away.

However, deep down I knew that something wasn’t quite right. So when a midwife came to visit me at home, I mentioned that I felt like I was hallucinating. I also told her that I hadn’t slept in days and had too much energy. To me she seemed dismissive – or maybe she hadn’t heard me. I’m not sure but nothing much was said about it.

Because the midwife had a bad cough when she visited, I became anxious that she had passed an infection on to my baby. Worse still, I started to believe that this midwife would go back to the GP practice and infect all the pregnant women and newborn babies there. I believed it was my mission to stop this from happening by putting in a complaint and trying to close down the labour ward to stop the infection from spreading.

My mind had become delusional.

Around this time, a midwife mentioned to me that they would be improving their labour support and that any suggestions from new mums would be great to feed into their next meeting.

My brain misinterpreted this information completely. I believed that The Labour Government wanted new mums to come to a special meeting to discuss any changes we would like to see for women going through labour. I was excited about this high-profile opportunity which was very unlike me as I am usually quiet and certainly not someone who would enjoy public speaking! However, I decided I would present my findings on the essay I completed, believing them to be of great importance.

I then started to become extremely paranoid about the midwives at the hospital and believed that they were conspiring to stop me from speaking to the government. I was scared that they would falsely claim that I was mentally ill and shut me in a psychiatric hospital and take away my baby.

I was so anxious that this was going to happen that I packed my suitcase on several occasions, wanting to take myself and Maya to a secret location where we would not be found.

Then, while visiting my Nepalese mother-in-law, she noticed I was acting strangely and called a local witch doctor to perform a spiritual ritual to remove evil spirits from my body. It prompted me to suddenly start believing in the Christian Faith and I visited the church a few times - maybe as a way of getting help. But this was short lived and I did not return.

I also became concerned that the midwives were watching or filming me through the TV. So I picked the TV up and turned it around. I began to feel so scared to be left alone with my baby and begged my husband to take more paternity leave as his two weeks off were coming to an end.

I remember hallucinating when I was watching my daughter and I thought I could see her eyes change. While sleeping I could also see something black curled up at the side of my bed which I believed to be the shadow of another baby.

Road signs started to have deep personal meanings, and numbers started to pop into my head. I felt as though I was being given the winning lottery numbers so went out and bought a ticket. Of course I didn’t win!

Because of my paranoia about the midwives, I called up my work and asked a colleague for a character reference, thinking this would save me from being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. My colleague must have thought I was acting very strangely so they called the mental health team.

The perinatal mental health team got involved at that point and a doctor came to visit, diagnosing me as having experienced a hypomanic episode. I gave part truths of my symptoms as I thought if I was completely honest about what was happening they’d take me to a psychiatric hospital.

In the end, I didn’t go into hospital or receive any treatment. My illness lasted around three weeks but I was lucky – it could have been so much worse.

Four years later, I realised that I was actually suffering from postpartum psychosis – yet I refused to share that realisation with the midwife during my second pregnancy out of stigma and fear. However, I reluctantly admitted my hidden illness during my third pregnancy to protect my children should I experience PP again.

There continues to be huge stigma surrounding mental illness and it’s so difficult for mothers and family members to come forward and ask for help. After my experience of PP I have never felt the same and went on to battle postnatal depression and anxiety after having my second and third child. This battle continues to this day, but I have recently found comfort in the church to cope and heal.

It pains me to see so many stories of mothers dying by suicide - so much more awareness is needed to increase knowledge of this often hidden and misunderstood illness and the devastating outcomes that can happen when people don’t get help.

I hope that sharing my experience will play a part in this awareness. I refused help because I was scared. But I’ve learnt that it’s important to be honest with the health team if you are experiencing any symptoms which are out of character. They are there to help new mums – not the opposite. I know it is a very scary experience to go through but getting help is vital for yourself and your baby.

Stock photo of baby’s hand by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash

Laura's 50 miles in a month!

Laura wearing her purple APP running vestThis October, mum of two Laura Walton is taking on a massive Miles for Mums and Babies challenge - running 50 miles in a month for APP.  Laura admits she is not a runner – saying she hasn’t run since before her wedding in 2014!  But she is keen to take on this challenge for APP to help raise awareness and funds.

Laura is passionate about raising awareness of postpartum psychosis since she herself was diagnosed after the birth of her first baby, Katie.  Laura had worked in childcare for nearly 20 years and felt like there was nothing she didn’t know about babies and children – but in all her years of working with children and parents, she had never heard about postpartum psychosis.

After her baby was born, Laura says she just didn’t feel right – ‘everything felt weird’ - and she could hear voices in her head.  She became obsessed with the idea of her baby getting ill or dying and felt she had to stay awake to keep watch over Katie. After 10 days with no sleep, her husband took her to hospital where, even though she shared exactly how she was feeling, her symptoms were not recognised as PP and she was not admitted.  As is often the case with PP, things got worse quickly, and Laura ended up being sectioned, with six police officers involved.  After being separated from her baby and held overnight in a room in the hospital, finally she was admitted to Leeds MBU. This was two hours away from her home and family, but it meant she could be together with her baby. Her husband and mother visited every day, spending hours travelling to and fro. Laura spent more than three months in the MBU, then was cared for by her community mental health team at home until she fully recovered.

Her journey to recovery was long and challenging, but after four years she felt well enough to be able to try for another baby – fully understanding that PP might come back, but she felt prepared for this and wanted to try.  As soon as she got pregnant, she started to feel early symptoms, so quickly accessed support and suitable medication, which kept her and her baby healthy throughout the rest of her pregnancy.

Laura is challenging herself to run 50 miles this month because she wants everyone to be aware of the signs and symptoms of PP, and to know how quickly it can affect new mums and mums to be. She says:

‘When I was ill, no one ever told me or my her family that I would get better – it was terrifying to think I might never be myself again.’

Laura is now back to the person she was before. She very aware of what can affect her mental health and is mindful about looking after herself.  She’s studying counselling and wants to do more to help understanding of mental health, particularly in new mothers.

She plans to celebrate completing her final mile with a party for all her family and friends at the end of the month.

To support Laura’s 50 mile challenge, visit her GoFundMe page here.

Thank you for your support Laura!

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.

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!

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 training in postpartum psychosis – new dates announced

Join APP’s health professionals training to help recognise the early signs and symptoms of postpartum psychosis (PP), stay up to date with best practice care and support women and families through to full recovery.

APP Training for Health Professionals

Supporting dads and co-parents affected by postpartum psychosis
📅 Friday 14th July / Zoom
⏰10am - 12.30pm BST
🎟 £99
🔗 Find out more & book here

Best practice care in postpartum psychosis
📅 Wednesday 15th November / Zoom
⏰ Full day training
🎟 Early bird (to 31st July) £165, full price £195
🔗 Find out more & book here 
For onsite delivery to your staff team or for more information, please email: training@app-network.org

Supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic families affected by postpartum psychosis
📅 Thursday 16th November / Zoom
⏰ 12 – 2.30pm
🎟 £99
🔗 Find out more & book here

Find out more about APP's training here.

Sign up to the APP network to keep up to date with APP's latest training offering.

75-year-old GB Triathlete takes on record breaking Ironman challenge for APP

75-year-old Alex Heron, a GB Triathlete from Mumbles, Wales, is set to take on the Tenby Ironman this September to raise money for APP.

Alex was 64 when he began his triathlon career in 2012, and he now hopes to set a new record as the first 75–79-year-old category entrant to complete the gruelling Welsh contest – one of the world’s toughest Ironman races – in September 2023. Alex will also be running in the Swansea Half Ironman on 16th July.

He said: “For all of my active life I have stubbornly said I will never do a full Ironman! There really is nothing to recommend it except for the promise of getting my first manly tattoo on the back of rather puny and rapidly shrinking calves.”

The Tenby Ironman consists of a 3.8km sea swim, a 180km cycle race and finishes with a challenging 42km marathon run.

It’s a tough challenge for anyone, but Alex believes it’s worth going back on his commitment to never put himself through a full Ironman for charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis.

Alex said:

I have seen first-hand, and from the outset, the amazing work of Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP). Under its CEO, my daughter, Dr Jess Heron, I have been able to follow the amazing work the team does and the huge difference they make for women and families who, often completely out of the blue, struggle with the devastating experience of postpartum psychosis.

Postpartum psychosis (PP) is a severe but treatable form of mental illness that occurs after having a baby and affects 1400 new mums in the UK each year. APP offers information, training, and peer support, facilitates groundbreaking research, raises awareness and campaigns for improved services. Its life changing peer support-network helps women and families affected by postpartum psychosis to feel understood, supported and less isolated.

Alex added: “I’ve still got a lot of training to finish before September comes around, but, while a full Ironman presents a huge challenge to me personally, it is nothing compared with the family impact of postpartum psychosis – and that’s something we can all help to alleviate through awareness raising, fundraising and campaigning – three things that APP does so exceptionally well."

To support Alex on his amazing mission to become the first person in the 75-79 age group to complete the Tenby Triathlon visit his JustGiving page.

Alex's grandaughter, Beth, has designed this leaflet to help raise awareness of her amazing grandad! Please do share.

75 years of the NHS

The NHS is 75 years old on Wednesday 5th July. At Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) we would like to mark the anniversary by thanking all the staff who are part of our partnership projects with the NHS, working to deliver peer support to women and families affected by postpartum psychosis (PP) and severe postnatal mental illness.

APP's NHS partnership projects

APP has been working collaboratively with the NHS since 2018. By embedding our peer supporters in Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) and with perinatal community mental health teams we reach women and families during admission and discharge as well as provide longer-term support through local community café groups - monthly get-togethers for anyone who has experienced PP.  Wider family members are signposted to dedicated dads, co-parent and grandparent support via APP’s national projects. Women from diverse communities can be matched for additional support to others with similar experiences.

Since 2018 APP's NHS partnership projects have supported  more than 700 women and family members.

We’re currently working with NHS teams in:

  • Birmingham (East, South, West and Solihull community teams).
  • Chamomile Suite Mother and Baby Unit in Birmingham.
  • Ribblemere Mother and Baby Unit in Chorley & community teams in Lancashire and South Cumbria.
  • The Black Country community teams (Walsall & Wolverhampton and Sandwell & Dudley).

“I am incredibly proud of our NHS partnership projects and the work which APP peer support teams do alongside our NHS colleagues. Reaching women and families earlier in their illness, whether whilst at an MBU or as part of a community team, including supporting pregnant women who are at risk of PP, has provided vital peer support which APP is well-placed to provide, being in but not of the system.  Our café groups and other community support is there for women for as long as they wish to be part of it, and seeing those who have been patients then give their time and experiences to APP as volunteers is both very moving and a great testament to what we have achieved so far.  I would welcome the opportunity to grow our networks of APP peer supporters in NHS services and would love to hear from other MBUs about how we can work together on more collaborative projects.  

Like many others who have lived experience of PP, I am thankful to the NHS and for the treatment I had when I was unwell, as well as APP’s peer support which was such an important part of my recovery and ongoing journey. To be working on these projects now is hugely rewarding and something I never imagined could be possible. Thank you to the NHS, my wonderful APP and NHS colleagues, and everyone who is marking this special anniversary”. 

Hannah Bisset, APP National Coordinator – NHS Contracts. Email: hannah@app-network.org

Find out more about APP's regional projects here.


Since 2014 APP has delivered lived experience talks and workforce training days for NHS staff, including MBU teams, health visitors, midwives and mental health nurses. The courses help health professionals recognise the early signs and symptoms of PP; promote the importance of timely treatment; and talk about recovery and support needs.

  • 100% of health professionals attending APP’s training say it has increased their knowledge of PP.
  • 100% say it will change their practice, with 73% saying it will change their practice ‘a lot’.
  • 99% say they feel better equipped to identify and manage those at risk of PP during pregnancy.

Workforce training days can be held at NHS sites. Find out more about APP training here or email: training@app-network.org.


We want to thank and celebrate NHS staff who have worked incredibly hard to support APP through fundraising. Many healthcare professionals have taken on marathons or other sponsored challenges for APP over the last few years, and teams from MBUs and Perinatal Mental Health Teams in Glasgow, Birmingham, Nottingham, North Wales and Swansea have all taken part in our Miles for Mums and Babies challenge - running, walking and cycling hundreds of miles to raise awareness of PP and funds for APP.

The Morpeth and Exeter MBU teams and the Pennine Specialist Perinatal Community Mental Health Team all joined in with our Big Bake for APP.

We would love to partner with more NHS teams, to highlight the support families going through PP need and raise money for our work. Sign up for #MilesforMumsandBabies or get in touch with our fundraiser, Fliss.


“As Peer Support Facilitator with APP and the Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust I have had the privilege of supporting many mums and families alongside the caring and compassionate perinatal team at the MBU and in the community. It such a great partnership between APP and the Trust, as APP complements the services provided by the amazing perinatal services to ensure that mums affected by PP, and their whole family, are supported throughout their recovery journey and beyond”.

Jocelyn Ellams, APP Peer Support Facilitator – Lancashire and Cumbria

“It is a fantastic service and I feel very lucky to have this as an option in my workplace with such a caring and compassionate peer support worker”. 

NHS Healthcare professional

“Thank you so much for your support through the past 3 months. It’s meant so much. It has been the hardest 3 months of my life, but I think a lot of good has come out of it. I’m so much more motivated and confident now than I was before and I’m getting so much enjoyment out of my baby”.

Mum supported by APP-NHS partnership project

Join our NHS projects team

APP is recruiting casual Peer Support Worker(s) to join our innovative collaborative NHS partnership projects with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust and Black Country Healthcare Foundation Trust providing peer support to inpatients at Birmingham Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) and in the community through our café groups in both the Black Country and Birmingham.

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 and to be part of our West Midlands café groups across the region. Full details of how to apply are here.