Saturday 31 May 2014

Update on maternal mental health activities

*** This is an edited extract of an update I sent out to my PANDAS peer support group mailing list recently ***

I thought I might update you on a few different events and activities coming up over the Summer.  There is a lot happening in the field of maternal and perinatal mental health, and this can only be a good thing!

The Good Enough Mums Club
I'm so excited to report that this amazing musical (written by a fellow survivor of postpartum psychosis, Emily Beecher) is going to be staged right here in Kennington at the Three Stags pub.  I was lucky to have a "sneak preview" of the show (see my blog post here )and was thoroughly impressed: it will make you laugh, cry and think.  We talk a lot about "raising awareness" and "tackling stigma" when it comes to mental illness, but this is easier said than done.  This amazing company of mums is getting their message out there in the arts world, and I take my hat off to them.

You can buy tickets here:

Best Beginnings
This charity is working hard to make life easier for new parents.  They are in the process of creating a series of videos to show in antenatal classes and other settings to help people prepare for the realities of new parenthood, and the increased risk of mental illness during this period.  They are holding a "stakeholders day" next Thursday (5 June), in Central London.  And this morning I took part in a focus group, to inform the content and style of the videos.  For more information, and ways to get involved, see:

Maternal Mental Illness: managing risk factors 
My fellow PANDAS trustee, and expert on both PND and sleep issues, Dr Andy Mayers of Bournemouth University is hosting a special one-day conference on 10 June.  The event will bring together health professionals, academics, and "experts by lived experience" (like me, I'm speaking in the afternoon!!).  I spent about three hours last night, putting together a short PowerPoint presentation ("Postpartum Psychosis: my journey through motherhood & madness").  It was hard and emotional work, looking through all the photos my husband took of me during my illness, but I'm keen to show the delegates what severe postnatal illness can look like - and what recovery can look like too.

There are a few (free) tickets still available here:

Postpartum Progress
Every year, in June, this incredible US-based charity does an annual fundraiser called "Climb Out of the Darkness".  Teams take part across the world, all climbing together to raise awareness and funds for maternal mental health.  You can read all about it here:
And you can see our 22 June London Climb page here:
I can't believe it is now June - you will see we haven't even started fundraising yet!

Maternal Mental Health Alliance
The MMHA is an umbrella organisation of over 40 different charities and professional bodies, all working towards "improving the mental health and wellbeing of women and their children in pregnancy and the first postnatal year."
While it is admittedly difficult to steer an organisation of such size, apparently many important steps forward are taking place.

Their current campaign (which has received Comic Relief funding for the next 3 years) is called "Maternal Mental Health - Everyone’s Business" and has three main strands:
a) Raise the profile of perinatal mental illness amongst key stakeholders,
b) Apply sustained pressure to address the commissioning and delivery of perinatal mental health care, &
c) Showcase solutions and examples of best practice.

A key part of this campaign is the call for specialist mental health midwives.  

The campaign held a review and evaluation workshop on 15 May, and the next MMHA meeting is scheduled for 25 June.  

For more information, see:

PND awareness month
I was honoured to be included within a group of charities and individuals who met in Bristol to discuss the creation of a national PND awareness event.  It was a fantastic event (organised by the wonderful @littlemissevec and the Bristol-based Butterflies charity) and a further meeting is taking place in Liverpool on 1 July (hosted this time by PSS PND).  All I can say is Watch This Space! 

New draft NICE guidelines
Finally - keep an eye out for new draft guidelines from The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which will be going out to consultation in early July.  This will update the current NICE clinical guideline on Antenatal and Postnatal Mental Health, which was published back in 2007 ( ).

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