Thursday, 24 July 2008

My Yorkshire PR!

Thanks to my visits to Europe earlier this year with I now am being heard in Europe. As this ladies group is based in Yorkshire we decided to let the media know!

So thanks to Diana White at Forward Ladies I got a full page in the Yorkshire Post on Wednesday. See the article here.

Then on Friday I went into the very modern and swish BBC Leeds to be on their morning show. I was interviewed by a very complimentary Johnathan I'Anson who had obviously done his homework about me. I managed to get Forward Ladies a mention too!

I had an excellent lunch in Loch Fyne restaurant in Leeds too!

This may be the last entry for a week or so as I am now preparing to go to New York to attend the National Association of Speakers convention! I am so excited!


Knutsford Thursday Cub

Well this one was different but none the less great!

Months ago this club for retired ladies and gentlemen had invited me to go along with my cosmetic and jewellery sales and chat to them over their tea and biscuits. I would not let them down as once something is booked I am reliable. However, I did say my mission had changed.

I gave them a brief outline of my story and how I had decided to clear my stocks to enable me to get to Sydney.

The response was lovely as they got presents for themselves and others. Most importantly it got many of them talking about mental health issues which several in the room had been affected by or their loved ones.

One elderly gentleman congratulated me on my story and commented that he 'had been amazed he had got through his 80 years without knowing about postnatal illness, but he wished he had known sooner'.

I left with lighter boxes and a quarter of my ticket now sorted, plus an invitation to speak to a local church.


Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Well Heeled Divas Birthday party!

... next on my busy schedule today was the Well Heeled Divas first birthday party.

As you may be aware this is an organisation dedicated to empowering and inspiring women to step up to the next level in their life – whatever that may be. They helped me do that last year and I am now reaping the benefits of that!

It was lovely to hear how others had also been encouraged to develop and grow in many ways and listening to Jane speak I was inspired even more. I also took along some of my Virgin Vie stocks which have been collecting dust since I hung up my sales career. I reduced it all to help fund my flight to Sydney!

My Marce trip is now getting even better as I have been asked to speak in Melbourne too!

My aim at the Well-heeled Divas workshop was to become a world-class speaker so it seemed apt to come home and book my flight to Australia! Way to go!!

They definitely have motivated me to step up to the next level! Thank you Divas! If you want to do this and need help then tell them I sent you!


Northwest Perinatal Mental Health Network

Today I attended a training event put on by the Northwest Perinatal Mental Health network, held at Wythenshawe hospital.

On a personal note it was lovely to meet some familiar faces, especially Thelma Osborn who wrote the final chapter in my book. She tells me that Halton are putting their finishing touches to guidelines on perinatal mental health.

The first presentation was on 'Physical Interventions for Depressed Parents and their infants' by representatives of three teams of the Manchester Children and Parents Service (CAPS). Some of the services they offer are Parent Survival Course; Baby Survival Course; Preschool Psychologist Clinic; Baby Blues Buster; Cues and Clues and CPN Service. They explained in more detail their Baby Blues Busters and their Cues and Clues services which has some interesting aspects. Let me know if you would like more information!

Next we heard from Caroline Nuttall and Nic Seccombe who were from the Self Help Services, a user-led, mental health charity that is housed within Big Life Group - a collection of social businesses and charities. It is based at the Zion community centre in Manchester. They spoke about computer-based CBT which has been given approval by NICE, for example 'Beat the Blues' and 'Fear fighter'.

'Beat the Blues' is an on-line 8 week hourly session support for those suffering from mild depression. Although the speakers could not state how many people they had helped use it suffered from postnatal depression it was thought to be a useful tool for some.

Other on-line support schemes they mentioned were by Dr. Chris Williams and .

If you would like more information on this please go to

Finally we heard from Dr. Angelika Wieck who is the Consultant perinatal Psychiatrist based at the Mother and baby Unit at Wythenshawe hospital. She spoke about anti-depressant use in the perinatal period. One amazing fact she shared was the potential harmful effects of one drug - coffee! So expectant mums keep it to a minimum! She went on to show that different drugs can affect different developing areas of the fetus at different times of the pregnancy. If you would like more information on this area please contact me.

I will be arranging to visit the mums in the unit in the autumn for a pamper session or two.

From there I went over to the railway station at Sowerby Bridge for a photo-shoot with Janet Jones for pictures for my new website and business cards - coming soon! I was really impressed with them!

Later on ... see next posting ...


Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Radio Merseyside and Edge Hill

It was a beautiful sunny morning as I made my way to Radio Merseyside. Each time I go the cranes and building work for 'Liverpool - Capital of Culture' seem to be making progress. Once again I was going to review the newspapers on the Breakfast show.

I chose a story in the papers today about a health map of Britain which listed Merseyside as having the highest rates of depression in the UK. I hope someone heard me say that you can get better and that it helped them. I went on to mention a feature in the Daily Post about getting out on bicycles - exercise can help depression a great deal but you do need encouragement to do it!

From there I made my way onto Edge Hill University at Ormskirk where I gave my 'What matters to patients' presentation to all the pre-registration nursing students. I always have a trip down memory lane when I speak here as that was were I did my degree for four years - happy times! Greg Davies - where are you now?!

I got a very warm reception from the students and I invariably get a few talking to me afterwards. One lady had also suffered from postnatal depression years ago but still worried that it may come back. I do hope she felt better after we talked about what she would do if she recognised the signs and acknowledged she would get help much sooner.

One young man made me feel particularly pleased about my role. He told me that he suffers from depression and some days he really struggles to get out of bed. It was hard for his housemates to understand but he told me he was so pleased for raising all the issues and he hoped it would help his friends to help and understand him more.
With his permission he sent me these messages ..

Ever since I heard you speak I've been thinking about what you said, how you got through!!! Once again I just want to say thank you for giving that insight into mental health issues and depression, it's made people ask me questions that they would shy away from asking me before.

But most of all on that day I had been the lowest that I had been for a while and you showed me that there is a way out, and I can do whatever I want to, especially become the nurse that I dream to be!!!


Thank you Chris for making me feel so privileged and humble to make that difference. I am sure you will be a fantastic nurse!

Thank you to those other students who also shared a little of themselves with me too.

After the lecture I was taken around the new health education building - very impressive! It was a field in my day!!


Friday, 18 July 2008

Petition for Downing Street - Please help!

As you know, I was very ill after my pregnancy with Dominic and now spend my time speaking about my experiences to an increasing range of audiences, following the publication of my book ‘Eyes without Sparkle – a journey through postnatal illness’.
Part of my aim is to reduce the stigma around mental illness and offer hope but also I campaign for better services and facilities for those affected by this awful illness.

The web-based forum , of which I am patron, has put together a petition for Downing Street – if we get 200+ signatures it will be read by Gordon Brown. Let’s see if we can smash this target and get a real call for action!

Currently services in the UK provided by the NHS are not up to the guidelines submitted by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence), putting lives at risk and prolonging the suffering of many. are asking that the following basic principals should be put in place to help women and their families who are deeply affected by Post Natal Illness to recover swiftly and fully:
* A dedicated Health Visitor from each area in the UK to follow up any referrals from GP
* Support groups on an informal basis to take the pressure off mums who may be suffering confidence with the opportunity to incorporate a buddy system.
* Funds made for community groups to be set up with the support of a Health Visitor/Community Psychiatric Nurse or other trained professional.
* Faster follow up counselling than is currently available.
* Shorter waiting lists for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and other therapies
* A specifically trained individual on Post Natal Illness to operate in each Primary Care Trust.
* Correspondence for all mums with a Health Visitor until the child reaches the age of 5.
* More funding for charities supporting women and their families suffering Post Natal Illness
* Dedicated support for the father and families affected by the mother suffering Post Natal Illness.
Please take a few minutes to click on and sign up to petition the Prime Minister to arrange for more and a higher standard of services for women and their families affected by post natal illness.

With thanks and love,

Elaine New website coming soon at

Tel 01928 725823 or 07762 148183

‘Making a difference for Families’

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

University of Salford

I had the honour this week to speak to a group of students who are in their 2nd year of a mental health nursing course at the University of Salford.

I regularly speak here and was thrilled when their tutor asked if I would consider becoming an honorary lecturer there.

I gave my story; how mental illness can affect families, etc; signs to look out for and the things which really matter to patients. I loved doing it!

Even better was the response from their tutor, Dr. Hogg:-

Elaine, I wanted to thank you for your teaching sessions and to convey to you the power and the impact your sessions have had with the students nurses here at Salford. One student commented that this was the best session she has had in the 3 years she has been at University. Others have said that they have been inspired and you have given them a different view on caring. Most of all, it seems to motivate them to really think of the person in front of them- and not just a diagnosis. To me you can't put a price on that! Thank you!

I am delighted with comments like that and hope to talk to many more students!

It is so good to show that it is possible to recover from a serious mental illness and I was pleased that the elements of Hope and Kindness were picked up by the students as crucial nursing skills.

Good luck guys with the rest of your course!


Sunday, 13 July 2008

Well heeled Divas - Revive!

Last September I was lucky enough to be invited by photographer friend Angela Sutherland ( visit her website at to be her 'bring a friend for free' at a workshop held by the Well-heeled Divas. I went along not really knowing to expect.

The weekend turned out to have a HUGE impact upon me! It was basically a self-development course where 12 very different ladies all had the opportunity to look at their lives from every angle and 'step-up' to the next level.

For me it was the realisation that promoting my book and giving my talks on postnatal illness IS my true passion and that is what I should focus on. Yvonne and Jane who guided us through the two days were brilliant. The Mancheter Malmaison did us proud with the venue and catering - another recommendation!

So now almost 10 months on we went back to look at our goals and see how far we had or had not come. I was stunned to see that most of mine had either been achieved or are well on their way. My main one was to become a world-class speaker. Since the original event I now am going to a Speakers Convention in New York in August; Sydney in September; Strasbourg in October and have links with Brussels, Milan and Latvia too!

THANK YOU to the Well- heeled Divas! You have helped me to 'come out and play'!

Go girls and 'step-up'!


Thursday, 10 July 2008

Forward Ladies goes Mandarin

I attended a lovely event with in Manchester tonight.

It was hosted by The Sweet Mandarin restaurant at

We heard of the history of the restaurant and how it was founded upon their family history and their subsequent book, 'Sweet Mandarin'.

Well worth a visit!


Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Clinical Outcomes

With less than 24 hours notice I was asked to stand-in at a Healthcare Events conference in Manchester on Managing Clinical Outcomes.
From my opening line of 'I am not here to moan, complain or demoralize you speaking as a former patient' to my close of 'remember that patients are humans with hearts,' I seemed to be on fire! The feedback was great!

In recent months I have learnt and developed my presentational skills further thanks to my colleagues at the Professional Speakers Association. See the new website at

Come along and see what we do!

Ladies@Lunch on BBC Radio Lancashire

I went back to my Lancashire roots today and was a guest on BBC Radio Lancashire Ladies@lunch programme along with Liz Swan, a script writer and nurse.

Their account of me reads like this:-

Our other panellist, Elaine Hanzak, was in my view one of the most fascinating guests we have had on Ladies @ Lunch so far. Elaine’s life was bobbing along fabulously – married, rewarding job as a teacher for kids with learning difficulties – and having always wanted a baby, she fell pregnant exactly as planned. During the following months, Elaine did everything right – read all the books, diligently went to ante-natal classes – and was very much looking forward to becoming a mother.

When the crunch came, Elaine had a difficult birth – the cord had wrapped around the baby’s neck – but some skillful work by the doctors ensured a safe delivery. But this was just the beginning of a series of events which saw confident, happy Elaine change into a shadow of her former self – her personality dramatically altered, she began to self-harm. Ultimately, Elaine ended up spending two months on a psychiatric ward – and wondered if she would ever find herself again.

Thanks to some wonderful people, she came through the darkness and today you would never imagine Elaine had been through such trauma in her life. Her book, “Eyes Without Sparkle”, documents her journey and she spends her time now trying to help others in similar situations; campaigning for more “mums and tots” beds in hospitals, signposting post-natal depression sufferers towards help from all sorts of sources. Every once in a while, you meet someone who is truly inspirational – and Elaine is certainly worthy of such a tag.

What a lovely account!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Improving Maternal Mental Health - Healthcare Events

I was delighted to give my keynote presentation at this conference, run by the excellent Healthcare Events.

We heard about the pilot of the family-nurse partnership from Ann Rowe and Marie Livesey - hopefully we shall see more of this as the Child Heath Promotion Programme is rolled out. Professor Sharp spoke to us about looking at the identification and management of women at high risk of developing a perinatal mental health disorder.

Professor Ian Banks gave a very amusing but great reflection on Dads and the need to get males more involved in their own health care. It is so true that it tends to be females who take them to appointments. His books, designed in the same way as car manuals would be great gifts for new Dads.

Also have a look at
to look at improving services for men.

The lively Dr Alain Gregoire challenged some of the issues raised in the NICE guidelines and commented that we still have women who are under-treated in the NHS with often a lack of full recovery. I have to agree with him and this is part of my passion to improve services.

Mr John Cape spoke about improving access to psychological therapies. Ruth Rothman gave a wonderful presentation on the scheme in Southeast Essex of developing peer support to improve maternal mental health - some great ideas.

Then Marjorie Finnigan gave a super report on the Salford Surestart Perinatal Mental Health Project. Only to end it by saying the funding has been stopped. Why, oh why does this have to happen? When will perinatal mental health health be placed on the core commissioning scale instead of project based? We all need to shout out about this!

The day ended with Emma and Chris Barker who shared their personal story of puerperal psychosis.

Dr Dave Tomson, who had chaired the NICE guidelines on antenatal and postnatal mental health, did a sterling job of letting this day run well. It was good to meet hm again - last time we met at a launch of the guidelines held at Tate Britain.

As always it was a pleasure to meet dedicated health professionals.