Friday, 30 January 2009

Mental Health Nurse?

I have come across a resource which may be of use to you if you are a mental health nurse or a student.

Have a look at

Steve, who runs the site, is a perinatal mental health nurse and there are plans to put more information on the site for this specialist area.

What do you think? What do you need? Can you contribute?

So many professionals are trying to reinvent the wheel out there so the more we can network and share good practice the easier and more effective we can make the care pathways for sufferers out there!


Sunday, 25 January 2009

'Just Go' and get the Feelgood factor!

Those of you who have listened to my talks or have known me for years will be aware that I am a huge Lionel Richie fan.

Also you will know that I advocate things that you make you feel good, whether you are mentally ill or not!

I simply have to pass on my latest INSTANT feel good factor ...
Lionel's new track 'Just Go'.

Have a listen at

It works for me!! My partner says Lionel has been listening to his ideas! That's the canny trick Lionel has - makes it feel that it was especially for you.

Can't wait for his concerts again in the Spring.

Listen and enjoy!


Friday, 23 January 2009

Postnatal Illness - making a positive difference in Doncaster

I had the pleasure today of addressing an audience of health professionals and others at an event held at The Dome in Doncaster.

The day had been organised by Ilona Vindule who is the Commissioning Manager (Mental Health and Substance Misuse)NHS. She heard me speak at an event last year for Healthcare Events.

Ilona asked me to inspire and motivate but also to give some examples of good practice of clinical pathways for maternal mental health.

I was most impressed by the stakeholders who attended and the enthusiasm to improve services was very obvious. Ilona is going to compile a report of the recommendations made during the day and I hope this sees the start of positive improvements for the wellbeing of the mothers and families in the Doncaster area.

The examples I suggested were:-

The East Midlands have an effective managed clinical pathway. This is useful as a model for commissioners to look at.$File/perinatal-psychiatric-services.pdf

I have heard that Glasgow have a good scheme under Dr Roch Cantwell.

Also Kirklees

The Western Area have an impressive scheme and documents.

In my home area of the North West of UK we have had a Regional Infant and Maternal mental Health Network. Although we still have a way to go the wheels are in motion to improve services.

I also am a huge fan of the Tamworth PND support group who have an excellent model of a rolling eight week programme.

If you need to keep up to date with perinatal mental health matters I recommend that you join the mailing list at

If anyone has any other areas which are worthy of shouting about please tell me and I can put you on my newsletter - to follow very soon!

Well done Ilona for a very good event.

Her comment on me was:-

‘I found Elaine’s talk very informative and a good source for finding out about examples of good practices in the development of maternal mental health services. For us, commissioners and health professionals, service user should be in the center of every service we develop and deliver. Elaine can be seen as a partner as she possesses wealth of information gained not only through her personal experience, but also through her activities at national and international arenas, - we have to appreciate it.’ Ilona Vindule, Commissioning Manager, NHS Doncaster

Thank you,


Thursday, 22 January 2009

Patient Information Forum

Today I met up with Mark Duman who is the Honorary President of the Patient Information Forum (PiF).
PiF is an independent organisation that promotes high-quality information for patients, carers, and their families. We support those involved in the production and dissemination of high-quality consumer health information by:

Influencing national and local policy
Spreading and sharing good practice
Training health information professionals
Communicating news and research

I am a strong believer in good information for patients and their families as where it is provided it can help ease a great deal of stress. It can also empower them by helping them to understand and take some control over their care and treatment which is good for all concerned.

I hope by joining this group I will also help in these important aims.

Have a look at their website.

Mark is also involved in the Improvement Foundation.

The Improvement Foundation leads the field in service improvement work across the public sector in the UK and overseas. Their website states that:-

We work in partnership with frontline staff and service users to deliver large-scale improvements in health, education and service outcomes, and provide leadership and quality improvement skills training.

We work closely with the Department of Health, the Department for Children, Schools and Families and several other public sector bodies and other organisations. Experts in quality improvement, we have an eight-year track record of demonstrating significant, sustainable impact and value for money.

For more information see

I was most impressed to also meet Mark's colleague Teresa Karran who told me about a wonderful project on cancer prevention work.

I hope I can be involved and helpful in their work.

If you are involved in Mental Health are there any aspects of information that you feel could be improved? Please let me know.


Monday, 19 January 2009

A generation of new mums in crisis!

Today an article in the Daily Mail stressed that half of new mothers are in crisis and suffering from postnatal depression.

The article reads: -

A generation of new mothers is in crisis, the Tories have warned.

More than half are said to show signs of post-natal depression as they are increasingly left to fend for themselves after giving birth.

Maria Miller, Conservative families spokesman, warned women were floundering because they did not have the traditional family support and advice their own mothers could rely on.

What is more, the Government has failed to keep up with the dramatic changes to motherhood over the last 20 years, she said.

Up to 52 per cent of women reported signs of depression and 60 per cent felt they had not seen their health visitor enough during their child's first year, found a poll by website

Mrs Miller, a businesswoman with three young children, admitted that she too initially struggled with motherhood.

'Like many women today, I had spent almost a decade working before becoming a mum for the first time. Yet the practical reality of a new baby left me struggling to get out of my pyjamas before lunchtime.'

A child's arrival can have a much greater impact on modern women than it did on their mothers and grandmothers, she added.

Childbirth is often delayed until women are in their mid-thirties, with established careers. So many go from a position of authority in the workplace to being at home all day with little daily support.

Mrs Miller, tipped for promotion in a reshuffle of the Shadow Cabinet, said a Tory government planned to introduce a universal health-visitor service to offer extra support.

It would employ an extra 2,700 health visitors to provide a minimum guarantee of six hours of support for all families in the first two weeks of a child's life, as well as prenatal visits.

An hour-long visit would be made every two weeks for the next six months, followed by monthly contact until the child was a year old, with a minimum of two visits a year until the age of five.

The Tories have also pledged tax breaks for married couples with children and extensions to flexible working and parental leave.

Mrs Miller added: ' Improvements to parental leave and the more plentiful availability of childcare are welcome, but do not go far enough to address the true pressures that many modern families face when a new baby arrives.

'When my mother's generation started their families they had a ready-made support system in place - parents and even grandparents in neighbouring streets; and an army of health visitors to plug the gaps. Today, health visitors are a rare commodity and we may have few links with other people living in our neighbourhood.'

The survey, commissioned by the Tories, found that almost half of mothers had only seen their health visitor once or twice in the first two months after birth.

Some 49 per cent were not contacted at all by a health visitor after their child passed two months.

Sally Russell, of Netmums, said: 'There is growing evidence to support the fact that development in the first years of life can significantly impact on a child's life chances. We are constantly stunned by the accounts we receive from our members of the poor standards of care.

'With under-investment, a retiring population of health visitors and a breakdown of traditional support systems, the current system means many new mums have to simply fend for themselves.

'Health visitors have been at the heart of family healthcare since Victorian times. Some new mothers probably would have received better support from family and the state 100 years ago.'

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has previously promised more health visitors. In 2007, he said: 'We will need more specialist nurses and health visitors to tackle public-health issues in deprived communities.'

See it here

Yet again the call is for more and better trained health visitors. I feel strongly that Mums need support and if this cannot be done by immediate family I urge struggling Mums to try to find those in a similar situation to help one another. I also think there is a need in communities for an 'adoptive granny' scheme. For example, a list of local ladies who are available to run errands, go to the shops, etc and just help out. Perhaps church communities and groups such as WI and the Soropotimists could help with this? I am such that there is a whole army out there who would LOVE to help!


Friday, 16 January 2009

Latest research on postnatal depression

Today I was invited to speak on BBC Radio Manchester on Heather Stott's morning programme to comment upon the latest research on postnatal depression.

Two studies had been published in the British Medical Journal.
The studies have found that counselling and peer-group support for new mothers might help prevent depression. The first study (in England) found that postnatal depression is reduced in women if health visitors are trained to spot symptoms of depression six to eight weeks after birth, and offer psychological support. The second (Canadian) study found that women who received advice by phone from a woman who had suffered herself were around half as likely to develop postnatal depression 12 weeks after birth.

See a report here of the studies:

I am a strong advocate of both theories and urge Primary Care Trusts to take these studies seriously and act upon them. Not only do the health visitors need more training in such issues but we need to give them more resources and staff to deal with the problem. And NOW!

There are lots of good links and helpful information here on PND


Thursday, 15 January 2009

Perinatal Mental Health Training

Today I travelled down south to St. Richard's hospital in Chichester.

I had been asked to address staff involved in midwifery and the care of pregnant women and their children in the area.

The session was especially pertinent as very sadly a lady had commited suicide at the weekend not long after having given birth. This is why I feel so PASSIONATELY about increasing the awareness and reducing the stigma and ignorance around postnatal illness.

The more we can educate, communicate and inform everyone involved around pregnancy and birth, the better chance we have of reducing the suffering of so many.

It's not just about saving lives but improving them. I got a message recently from a lady who I had met when I went into a Mother and Baby unit and talked to the patients whilst giving them a pamper. At the time this particular lady was very ill and her mum joined the session. I felt extremely humble to learn that she is now well but especially as my story had actually 'saved the relationship' between mother and daughter by increasing the mothers' understanding of the awful illness.

I was given a very warm reception at St. Richard's and I look forward to my next visit there in February.

Thanks for the Danish Pastry Karen! It's on my 'feel good' list now!


Monday, 12 January 2009

Mental Health in Higher Education

Today I spoke at a workshop funded by Mental Health in Higher Education, held at Staffordshire University.

The workshop, lead by Dr. Liz Boath, was entitled 'Learning and Teaching about perinatal mental health - Don't let women slip through the net'.

It was aimed at all health and social care educators, including practice teachers, mentors and service user trainers and carers with involvement in education.

It was oversubscribed!

Dr. Carol Henshaw gave a presentation on 'Perinatal Mental Health: a fly past'.
To summarise she stressed

1. It isn't all about postnatal depression
2. Serious psychiatric morbidity is associated with childbearing and these mothers and children have poor outcomes
3. All professionals involved in caring for pregnant and postpartum women require the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes to mange these conditions.

Sadly such training is thin on the ground!

I gave an outline of my story and stressed the need to include perinatal mental health training to as many health and social work professionals as possible.

Delegates then looked at ways to include such training in the curriculum in their establishments.

A request was made for me to make a DVD for training. If I did would you want one? Please let me know! All suggestions taken on board!

Let's hope Mental Health in Higher Education can help us do another session!


Sunday, 11 January 2009

Getting 2009 off to a great start!

'How to take 2009 by the throat and say I'm not done yet' was a new venture for my partner Clive Gott and I.

We met through the Professional Speakers Association and after encouragement at a seminar last year for colleagues to work together, we recognised the synergy and have devised this joint workshop.

We gave our delegates, whose ages ranged from 11 to pensioners, a full day of personal development hints and tips, along with ideas of maintaining their good mental health.

The feedback was great! It seemed we helped people face demons from their past; set goals to improve current relationships; focus their energy into following a new career and many other targets for 2009. We also recognised achievements from 2008.

Amongst the comments we received were:-

'I found your stories and the stories from the people in the room that courageously shared, very inspirational and the whole day was definitely emotionally moving.'

'I'd like to thank you for the brilliant workshop on Sunday. I think the different styles of you both works together really well. I got a lot out of it personally and it also made me realise how far I've come over the years and how ready I am to share my experiences at a different level. Both of you make it look so easy and natural ..'

'Your workshop really did have quite an effect on me! I guess it woke me up to taking a good hard look at exactly who I am being and what I deserve, then working on that.'

'Clive and Elaine are a great combination as presenters, hers being the more 'softly, softly' approach and Clive's more 'in your face' (a bit like good cop - bad cop) and it works really well!'

'You are both inspiring role models'.

All in all a productive day. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone and would like to thank everyone for their honesty and participation.

Special thanks to Caroline Coward and her mum from Leeds Business Network who kindly gave their time for free to help us run the day.

Also to Janet from for snapping away at us all day!

Watch this space for the next one!

Please contact us if you would like a similar day in your area or for your company!

Elaine and Clive

Monday, 5 January 2009

Beyondblue Newsletter and Carers Booklet

The latest newsletter from 'beyondblue' is available now to download:-

Through beyondblue news, the newsletter of beyondblue: the national depression initiative, we intend to keep you updated with information on depression and anxiety-related matters in Australia and internationally.

We'll report on beyondblue's activities, people, research, programs and partner organisations.

beyondblue has produced a free booklet and DVD to help people who care for a friend or a family member to navigate their way through some of the challenging issues they’re likely to face in their caring role.
The booklet – The beyondblue Guide for Carers – and the DVD – Carers’ Stories of Hope and Recovery - can be ordered free of charge by clicking here Both resources have been developed with input from people who have been, or are carers.

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 2 January 2009

Postively pregnant? Antenatal depression

Through my attendance at The Baby Show with other experts from, I met Delphi who offers advice around anxiety and depression in pregnancy.

Her excellent new site is here:

Well worth a look!

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year!

I am spending new year in Malaga. Just having a relax and enjoying the luxury of being in one place!

One of the presents I got for Christmas was a book from my parents called 'Carry Me Home' by Catherine Lucas.

I read it in one go sunbathing by the pool today! Wow! I often get people contacting me and saying how my talks/book have made a difference to them. I felt like this reading Catherine's story of her journey from having survived a car crash in which her mother had been killed.

Although my trauma of puerperal psychosis is nowhere near as bad as someone being killed, the thought processes that Catherine has gone through since really struck chords with me. Over the last few years I too have felt 'lost'. Like something was missing but did not know what. The more I have mixed with positive, forward thinking people and been introduced to different ways of thinking, e.g. The Secret, The Celestine Prophecy, I have started to feel I was within reach of 'it'.

Catherine's journey has now made me realise that I too am now on a spiritual journey - I have been for a while it seems. She has found a 'new' life of love, truth and service. Indeed I now feel I am starting on that similar journey. I have felt for a while that my purpose was to help others reduce or avoid the suffering my family and I went through. As if I was destined to use my skills of public speaking and empathy in their best possible way.

Life has been very tough in recent months and I know it will continue to be so for a while. I just have to have faith that I have made the correct decisions and one day will reflect on this New Year as very much a new start. A new journey. I am prepared for rocky sections but hope that I have strength to pass through them. I am optimistic of witnessing more of the beauty in life that Catherine Lucas so brilliantly shares with her readers.

Thank you Catherine for making my New Year so special!

Also to my parents for, well, everything. To my darling Dominic who jumped in the pool fully clothed to see in the New Year! To my friends who are supporting me now, as ever and apologies to you all for being so insular for a while.

Bring on 2009!