The Impact of the Eastenders Storyline on Women with PP - Lewis Roberts reports at The UKIMS Conference 2016


Lewis Roberts, a Medical Student researcher working with APP to understand the impact of the EastEnders storyline on women with experience of PP, presented his findings at the UK and Ireland Marcé Society (UKIMS) last week. Lewis tells us about the experience….

On Sept 15th, I attended the UKIMS annual meeting in central London. The day was led by a mixture of perinatal academics and practitioners, presenting a wealth of emerging research in the field of perinatal mental health. Topics ranged from paternal PTSD to the impact of antenatal antidepressant treatment. I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to present my research project at this event. The experience was a real privilege and something that I won’t forget.

The work that I presented investigated the impact of the recent EastEnders storyline, where the character Stacey experienced postpartum psychosis, on women with experience of the condition. After carrying out individual in-depth interviews with nine women recruited via APP, who had recovered from postpartum psychosis, five key recurring themes were found. The EastEnders portrayal impacted upon: ‘public education’, ‘stigma’, ‘personal disclosure’, ‘reassurance’ and ‘family relationships’. I briefly summarised each theme during my fifteen-minute talk, before highlighting some of clinical implications this work may have. These implications include identifying the significant impact that improved public understanding of postpartum psychosis has on women who have experience of the condition, aiding recovery and communication and decreasing stigma. The study highlights the potential benefits achievable, and risks to be aware of, for organisations like APP when collaborating with script writers in the production of future mental health drama storylines.

This was my first experience of presenting this work outside of university, and while I was excited at this prospect, I was very nervous about delivering a talk to an audience of eighty people. However, although I was unable to prevent my legs from trembling as I stood at the front of the conference room, I feel that I delivered this talk to the best of my ability, and couldn’t have asked for any more. The presentation was received well by the enthusiastic and inquisitive audience, and a few individuals approached me with questions about the research during the coffee break which followed my talk.

It was inspiring to spend a day amongst such an engaging group of professionals who were so passionate about perinatal mental health, and it has definitely encouraged me to pursue further research in this field of healthcare. I am extremely grateful to the Marcé society for giving me the opportunity to present this research, and I hope that I can build on this valuable experience by presenting this work to future audiences.