Monday, 27 April 2009

Bounty/ survey - we need more PND support!

I am delighted to have been asked by to be one of their experts on postnatal depression.

The survey has been covered by the Daily Telegraph.

A survey has found that many new mothers and fathers feel there is too little help for families suffering from the "baby blues".

More than a third of all women also wanted more help breast-feeding, which studies have shown can aid a baby's development but which many women find difficult or painful.

Post-natal depression affects up to one in 10 of all new mothers, many of whom suffer in silence.

Symptoms can range from mild depression to thoughts of suicide and can include feelings of helplessness or being over-anxious about their babies.

Earlier this month a study found that mothers of twins were more likely to suffer the condition than those who had one child.

In the new survey, 45 per cent of parents said there should be more advice that they can trust about the condition and how it can be treated.

The poll also showed that 38 per cent wanted more help with how to breast-feed, 36 per cent with getting their child to sleep and 30 per cent with nutrition.

Of those asked, 19 per cent also said there could be more information and alternative ways to give birth.

The Royal College of Midwives warns that there are not enough members of the profession to deal with a birth rate that has grown by 16 per cent in recent years.

The college estimates that an extra 5,000 midwives are needed in England alone, just to bring services up to scratch.

Elaine Hanzak, who suffered from puerperal psychosis, the most severe form of post-natal depression, after the birth of her son, said: "This poll clearly illustrates that more needs to be done to address the problems and challenges that millions of mothers and fathers face."

Faye Mingo, from the Bounty Parenting Club, which conducted the poll, said: "Many parents feel unsupported and don't have their family and friends living nearby as was often the case years ago. Access to professional advice and support is invaluable."

The survey, commissioned by, which offers advice to parents, polled 743 people.

More than 70,000 women are diagnosed with post-natal depression in Britain every year, although it is feared the true figure could be much higher.

Look out for more PR on this survey!


Thursday, 23 April 2009

Depression after financial loss?

Recently several people have told me of friends who have become mentally unwell as a result of losing their job or financial difficulties.

I have come across this booklet written by beyond the Blue (Australia) which may help.


Friday, 17 April 2009

Make the most of everyday.....

My Mum has just left the house to mutually comfort a close friend and former colleague due to death this evening of one of their friends and colleagues of almost 30 years. I too am upset as this lovely lady has been involved with our family during all that time. Her husband is one of the nicest guys you could imagine. Ann was only 63. She went to bed last week leaving him watching the Masters golf tournament. A hour or so later she had a massive stroke and has never regained consciousness.

Clive's brother also had a stroke last week - he is affected physically and although recovering will be unable to work again. A friend last week was worried not to meet me as I was still in hospital - this week she is visiting her Dad in another hospital because he was badly injured this week in a hit and run incident.

I was at a Liverpool Chamber of Commerce event last night and was chatting to a gentleman about mental illness. He has a friend who this time last year had a 'perfect' life. Currently she is in a very sorry state in a psychiatric ward having 'fallen apart' following redundancy.

Consequently tonight I find myself in an upset place. Yes - an inspirational speaker does do sad. Having been so poorly myself last week I am now appreciating just being out of a hospital bed and the worse I face is some keyhole surgery and the prospect of never having any more children - a dream which I have to begin to face is over. BUT I am alive. Life is difficult at the moment having left my husband Nick and still trying to see Dominic as much as I can when as an almost teenager (next weekend!) he wants his Apple Mac and his friends. BUT I am alive.

The last two weeks have really brought it home to me how life can so drastically change in ways we cannot imagine. How much time do we waste on silly niggles? Worrying about this and that? None of us knows what is around the corner - maybe it is just as well.

Last Thursday night I had just come round from an operation and was floating on medication; a week on I had a wonderful evening in Liverpool watching a Beatles tribute band in the Cavern Club and floated around on the atmosphere and company. Life is such a roller coaster.

I began my next book today on Patient Care. I want to continue to make those health professionals who we need at times like this, realise what is important and that when we get it, it is appreciated. That the simple acts of kindness are what really make a difference and we need those special people.

Clive has just sent me a message to say that 'Life is a privilege not a right - we should indeed enjoy each small gift of a day.'.

I truly hope that Ann and her family were treated with the kindness, compassion and dignity they all deserved. My thoughts are certainly with them at this very sad time.

So what will you do now that you have been putting off? What will you do to treat yourself or someone close to you. Mum just sobbed before she left 'It's the thing that you never get to say goodbye'. Which friend will you make contact with now that you haven't seen or heard from in a long while? I am so very, very guilty of that but then again I am aware that my new 'status', i.e. of being separated, has made some decide they no longer wish to be my friend. That is sad too. We are all guilty of judging how others should live their lives without allowing for understanding or even listening to what has made someone change direction or circumstances.

Life IS too short. We have to make the most of it. I don't mean by being selfish but just let someone you love know you appreciate them - because like Mum says - you may not get the chance to say goodbye.


Wednesday, 15 April 2009

My Easter researching Patient Care in NHS!

A few days before Easter I was delighted to be asked to speak at a conference on the Patient Experience in October to Chief Executives of the NW of England. I had begun to think about making my talk more generic than my experience of postnatal illness....

but I wasn't expecting to get first hand information again!

On Saturday 4th April I began to get severe abdominal and back pains and ended up by needing to be admitted to hospital. I went into ward G1 at York hospital and stayed for a week needing huge doses of pain relief and by the end of the week exploratory surgery. I am likely to have to return at some point for keyhole surgery.

I have to say I have nothing but praise for the staff on the ward! Even though I felt so poorly not once did I have to wait for pain relief or for any of my needs to be met. At times I felt like a spy because it seemed they were acting out my 'what really matters to patients' talk!

Their patience, kindness and compassion was the basis of excellent nursing. Clive didn't do too badly either!
His account is here

I confess at one point to be feeling extremely low and questionned why did I have to feel so ill and wallowed in self-pity! However, I got my answer ...

my second book!

Since 'Eyes without Sparkle' was published I have spoken about my experiences of suffering and recovering from a severe mental illness. But the talks have developed and I believe that health professionals need to be aware of how important the apparently small acts of kindness are to those at the receiving end of their care. I want to thank and inspire - not moan and demotivate.

So laying in my hospital bed I realised that I must put into print now the messages of Patient Care that I have been speaking about! Plan is to have it ready for the October conference.

They say things happen for a reason ....

but I was so upset to miss spending time with Dominic which we had planned before he went away with his Dad.


Thursday, 2 April 2009

The 3rd National Association of Radical Midwives conference

I will be going to this event and assisting at a workshop on mental health.

Saturday 21st November 2009
09:30 - 16:30 and 18:00 - 21:00

Chairing - the fabulous Stephanie Meakin
Speakers include

Michel Odent Caroline Flint Dennis Walsh

Afternoon workshops to include
HIV, Maternal mental health and bereavement with more to be confirmed!

Evening sessions (18.00-21.00) on holistic and complementary therapies which are sure to attract lots of interest!
PLUS a showing of The Business of Being Born


ARM members
Registered midwives £50
Students/Unwaged £30

Non ARM members
Registered Midwives £60
Students/Unwaged £35

Turn up on the day £60
Evening session only £10


Venue: Telford, International centre


National Mental Health Development Unit

Thank you to Jill from Mental Health in Higher Education for the following information

Have a look around the New Ways of Working website:

One bit I was very pleased to see was
• Service users and carers should be actively involved in the development and
delivery of training and education, and as partners in their care (at both individual and service levels).

The new National Mental Health Development Unit website has been launched today:


Care Quality Commission

Have you seen this?

Welcome to the Care Quality Commission - the new independent regulator of health, mental health and social care
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) launches today bringing together the independent regulation of health and adult social care in England.
We will build on the work of our predecessors, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission, but will bring a distinctive approach - common quality standards across health and social care for the first time and a new focus on how well health and social services work together. Above all, we will put the rights and interests of people who use services and their carers at the heart of our work.
We will share our wealth of knowledge and expertise on health and social care services with you. We will work to improve services across health and adult social care and we will act swiftly to remedy bad practice.
We look forward to working with you and will continue to keep you informed about our work.
To find out more about CQC visit our website
Or contact us by telephone 03000 616161 or email


Mental Health in Higher Education

I must recommend Mental Health in Higher Education

especially their excellent newsletter which has many events and information to anyone involved in the field.

See here for the latest and previous editions of mhhenews:

Keep up the great work Jill and team!


Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Doncaster Update on Maternal Mental Health

Earlier this year I spoke at an event from which I have this update.
A report ‘Maternal Mental Health for the Wellbeing of Families in Doncaster: Recommendations’ has been produced based on the recommendations developed by wide range of professionals during Stakeholder event held on 23rd of January 2009 and it is available here:

This report has been presented to the members of Mental Health Partnership Board and Maternity Matters Improvement Partnership. Maternal Mental Health Steering group is planned to commence its work in April 2009 and its first objective will be to develop antenatal and postnatal maternal mental health care pathways in Doncaster.

Perhaps other areas of the country may find it helpful?


Communication with Babies

Often suffering from postnatal illness severely affects the mother/baby bond. There is a wealth of research to back this fact, e.g.

I also know as a former teacher for children with severe and profound learning difficulties how vital communication skills are. In the same way now speaking to hundreds of professionals!

I have come across a couple of sites which have great information to help those all important communication skills.
The Bookstart programme is funded and supported by government and by children's book publishers. Run by the Charity Booktrust, Bookstart gives free books to every child in order to help them develop a lifelong love of books.
When parents and children spend time each day sharing books they are helping to build a strong and loving relationship with each other .
Children with a familiarity and confidence with books have better communication and listening skills and enjoy stories, songs and rhymes. A love of books helps children to have a far better start at school and goes on to benefit them throughout life. We all share these aims for every child and parent.

Talk To Your Baby is a campaign run by the National Literacy Trust to encourage parents and carers to talk more to children from birth to three. Talking to young children helps them become good communicators, which is essential if they are to do well at school and lead happy, fulfilled and successful lives.

Let's get communicating!