Monday, 27 July 2009

Postpartum Support International Newsletter

I have received the latest newsletter from Postpartum Support International.

It is normally available just to members but I have gained permission for you to view it here

PSI is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to helping women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression, the most common complication of childbirth. PSI was founded in
1987 to increase awareness among public and professional communities about the emotional difficulties that women can experience during and after pregnancy. The organization offers support, reliable information, best practice training and volunteer coordinators in all 50 US states as well as 26 countries around the world.
Working together with volunteers, caring professionals, researchers, legislators and others, PSI is committed to eliminating stigma and ensuring that compassionate and quality care is available to all families. To learn more, visit

I have an entry for the UK on page 9.

Maternal mental health is a global concern and is one the United Nations Millennium Goals. The more we can join together to help ease the suffering, the better.
Have a look around the website and newsletter - perhaps you would find it useful to join?

I wish them well at their conference and wish I was going! It's Yorkshire for me this summer not California!


Friday, 24 July 2009

Developers of User and Carer Involvement in Education

I have just received this press release from Mental Health in Higher Education.

NEW PUBLICATION: Involving Service Users and Carers in Education: the Development Worker’s Role

The increasing participation of service users, patients, families and carers has been one of the most significant developments in professional education for
health and social work over the past decade. The process of
involving ‘experts by experience’ in professional education is complex, however. To be effective it must be carefully planned and executed and supported financially. Recognising this, an increasing number of Higher Education Institutions have opted to employ people whose remit is to recruit, train and support service users and carers to contribute to professional programmes.

In the summer of 2005 a small group of development workers met over two
days in Nottingham. They had in common that they were fairly newly
appointed to posts, based in higher education institutions, with the aim of facilitating user and carer involvement in education for health and social
care. Lively discussion was accompanied by a shared sense of optimism and
enjoyment in the possibilities of these new roles, which were seen to pose significant challenges too.

Supported by the Mental Health in Higher Education (mhhe) project, but with a remit that goes beyond mental health, the Developers of User and Carer Involvement in Education (DUCIE) network has since met three times a year, combating isolation and facilitating the sharing of expertise and experience between those employed in these evolving roles.

These guidelines, based on the experiences of pioneering development workers already active in the field, aim to inform good practice in the employment and support of user and carer involvement workers in higher education institutions. They can be downloaded from:

For further information about the Developers of User and Carer Involvement in Education network, please contact Tel (01524)594094 or (0152) 592836


Thursday, 23 July 2009

Coronation Street and Claire Peacock - DVT and babies after postnatal depression

Coronation Street has run another story line on Claire Peacock who suffered from puerperal psychosis with her first child in the soap opera a few years ago.

Last night the character developed further

The ITV soap featured a tragic miscarriage storyline last night when young mum, Claire Peacock played by actress Julia Haworth was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which was sadly followed by a miscarriage.

Some pregnant women face an increased risk of developing blood clots whilst pregnant due to their circulation becoming slower as a reaction to the surge of pregnancy hormone progesterone.

Coronation Street’s bubbly red head has been put through her paces over the last few years with storylines including post natal depression, kidnapping of her child and an adulterous husband – now she battles DVT and a miscarriage of a baby she didn’t know she was carrying.

The dramatic storyline, has been supported by charity AntiCoagulation Europe who believe that the programme is right to highlight this condition.

“It is estimated that 1 in 100 pregnant women will develop a blood clot so it’s so important that all pregnant women are aware of what they can be doing to reduce the risk, explains Eve Knight, Chief Executive of AntiCoagulation Europe. “If viewers are worried about blood clots they should speak to their GP or nurse.”

Find out more information on DVT and what you can do to prevent it or how to spot the signs or visit the AntiCoagulation Europe website

Another issue that this storyline touches on is the worry faced by mothers who are considering another child or get pregnant again after suffering from postnatal illness with a previous baby.

Sadly statistics show us that there is a 50% risk as opposed to 15 – 20% of developing a mental health problem after pregnancy if you have suffered one before. However, please bear in mind that every pregnancy is different and just because it happened first time is not an automatic assumption it will happen again. Yet there are ways to minimise the risk and give you more control and confidence you will be well next time as you will have less fear and far more knowledge.

It is vital to get your support team in place and ensure that in the early days after giving birth all systems are in place to allow you maximum time for rest, for yourself and your baby. Even before you get pregnant reconnect with the health professionals and family and friends involved the first time and review what worked, what didn’t and what could have been better, e.g. medication, talking therapy. Recall the early signs from last time and warn everyone to look out for them and to respond accordingly thus meaning a faster recovery. Try to plan to give birth at a different time of year to make it ‘different’ from first time. Have discussed and written plans in place for the birth and early days, for example, who will help to look after the first child. Avoid any major stressors, such as moving house. Ensure you keep physically well by eating properly, by taking gentle exercise. Make your plans to feel reassured and in control, have the support structures ready, think positively and visualise the happy pregnancy and motherhood that can be yours.

I recommend a new book by Dr Dalfern called 'When baby brings the blues' - especially the chapter which deals with the relationship between the partners.

Postnatal illness can have severe affects on many people and that is why I remain passionate and dedicated to help others.


Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Calling for more Health Visitors!

The Family and Parenting Institute have a campaign on increasing the number of health visitors. There is plenty of research to support this need - we just need it to happen.

See their campaign at

Parents love health visitors. They give a uniquely valuable service that cannot be found elsewhere, parents trust their advice and turn to them easily when they are anxious or concerned about their new child.

In March 2007 YouGov carried out a poll for us which shows that 76 per cent of parents in England want parenting support and advice on their child's health and development from a trained health visitor with up-to-date knowledge.

83 per cent of parents want that support and advice in the home. But we have also surveyed Primary Care Trusts and found that how often or even whether parents get visitors from a health visitor is a post code lottery while health visitor numbers overall are in freefall.

The Family and Parenting Institute believes that health visitors are the key to effective early intervention. We have been campaigning since 2007 to raise the voice of parents in the debate about the future of health visiting, to protect the future of our unique health visiting service by securing a well funded, well trained universal health visitor network accessible to all parents of children under five with additional help for those who need it most.

In our report, Health Visitors - an endangered speciess, we argue for a well-funded, well-trained universal health visitor service available to all parents of children under five, with specialist support for the most vulnerable families.

There is a specific article on postnatal depression.

I fully support their campaign!


Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Postnatal Depression in Dads

This morning I was invited to speak on BBC Radio Manchester on Heather Stott’s programme about postnatal depression in fathers, as a result of my blog entry about a report linking it with excessive colic in infants (see July 3rd).

I have found the following websites which have more information on the subject:-

Recently there were two articles about fathers who suffered mental health issues, guilt, lack of bonding following the birth of their children and wish to speak out about it.

There is also a chapter in 'When Baby Brings the Blues' by Dr Dalfern about the relationship between mother/father which is relevant to both sexes.

Please let me know if you come across any other resources on the subject or examples of good practice.


Monday, 13 July 2009

The Smiling Mask

When I do my presentations I often speak about the 'mask' that mothers tend to put on if they are suffering from postnatal illness. Look at my entry for 24th June for a full explanation.

So I was fascinated to come across a website and book called The Smiling Mask.

The purpose of The Smiling Mask is to create awareness, understanding, and acceptance of post partum difficulties. To bring peace and validation to mothers by engaging and empowering families, and communities in the life changing and natural experience of parenthood.

It consists of the true stories of three Canadian women plus perspectives of their husbands.

Their website and blog is very interesting and useful.
Have a look at their tips on recovery

Also those at

Great to make contact with three inspirational ladies and their families who are making a difference in Canada.

Let me know if you have read the book - I shall be getting a copy!


Friday, 10 July 2009

Mother and Baby Unit Survey

I am often asked about statistics, etc. around Mother and Baby units in the UK.

Here is a link to the latest survey of all MBU facilities in the UK. Unfortunately you have to pay to read it in full:

National Survey of Psychiatric Mother and Baby Units in England


Thursday, 9 July 2009

Stress busting on BBC Radio Manchester

This morning I joined Clive and Bev Platt who runs a training company for the travel industry on Heather Stott's BBC radio Manchester Coffee Club slot. We discussed topical issues on and off air from 9 - 10 a.m.
We chatted about the 'new' generation of latch key kids. I had always had my Mum at home and only had a school lunch when I was in the 6th form! In contrast Clive had been a latch key kid from 11.
Also we talked about holidays - Bev reckons that this year the industry is okay as people had booked/saved prior to the recession but the travel business has concerns for next year.
We also debated the perils of noisy neighbours; the new research that claims stress can make you fat and ways we combat stress. I got my technique of appealing to the senses in and also not to struggle on your own with problems.
A relaxed and pleasant hour!


Monday, 6 July 2009

Well done to 'Stepping Forward' in Suffolk!

On March 27th 2008 I was delighted to be asked to present at at 'Stepping Forward' event in Ipswich - the video is on the home page of my website. Stepping Forward has become an invaluable opportunity for Suffolk Mental Health Partnership to give information about the Care Programme Approach (CPA) and get feedback on how service users and family carers experience it.

Jeannie Wright who is a key player in the event (CPA and clinical risk manager/ practice educator) has told me that their group has won the Care Programme Approach Association (CPAA) Award for Excellence in Partnership Working 2009. There is to be a presentation at Lincoln University on July 15th.

Many congratulations to the dedicated team of professionals, service users and carers involved.

Have a look at their work here


Saturday, 4 July 2009

Links to other resources on postnatal illness

Here are some links to more information and some forums which may help people affected by postnatal illness.

A BBC article

Talk Depression, an informative depression site containing, articles, members experiences of living with depression and other mental health issues and it’s effects, useful links and a peer support forum where you will be warmly welcomed by members who can understand how it can be.

netmums has loads of useful information and support for families but also has very good postnatal depression sections.

Advice and forums on PND - Australia-based.

Let me know if you find any more!


Friday, 3 July 2009

Father's Depression May Affect Infant's Colic

This research report is from

Excessive crying in infants, otherwise known as colic, has been linked to symptoms of depression in the mother. Now a study conducted in the Netherlands links infant colic to depression in the father as well.

The finding that continuous paternal depression appears associated with increased risk for colic among infants, "might inspire future fathers with depressive symptoms to seek treatment," Dr. Mijke P. van den Berg told Reuters Health.

Van den Berg, of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, and colleagues assessed symptoms of depression in several thousand sets of parents when the mothers were 20 weeks pregnant. They found that about 12 percent of the fathers and 11 percent of the mothers showed signs of depression.

For example, they answered positively to questions about feeling lonely, blue, hopeless, or worthless; having "no interest in things," or having "thoughts of ending life," the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.

Later, when the infants of these parents had reached 2 months of age, the researchers assessed parental reports of excessive crying.

Overall, 4.1 percent of depressed fathers, compared with 2.2 percent of non-depressed fathers, had infants who cried for at least 3 hours daily on 3 or more days in the previous week. Corresponding figures among depressed and non-depressed mothers were 4.8 and 2.2 percent, respectively.

Excessive infant crying remained more prevalent among depressed fathers and mothers even after allowing for parental age, education level, and ethnicity; gender and number of children; and paternal smoking.

Moreover, adjustments for depressive symptoms among the other parent did not alter these findings.

Traditionally, research and clinical practice focused on the influence of maternal depression during and after pregnancy, whereas "this study shows paternal mental well-being should also be taken into account," van den Berg told Reuters Health.

Additional research is needed to attempt to "disentangle the possible mechanisms" associated with paternal depression and infant colic, noted van den Berg.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, July 2009.


Help for postnatal illness in Ireland

I was recently asked for help and information on postnatal illness in and around Cork, Ireland.

Cork Mental health were very helpful and sent me the following details.
Their website is also worth a look around too.

72 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1 6617211
Locall: 1890 303302
Fax: +353 (0)1 6617217

Department of Health and Children
Hawkins House
Hawkins Street
Dublin 2
Tel: +353 1 635 4000
Fax: +353 1 634 4372

Mensana House
6 Adelaide Street
Dun Laoghaire
Tel: +353 (0)1 2841166
Fax: +353 (0)1 2841736

Carmichael House
North Brunswick Street
Dublin 7
Tel: +353 (0)1 8787230
Locall: 1890 927 277

Planning Office
St. Finbarr's Hospital
Tel: +353 (0) 21 492 3162

If anyone else can add to the list please let me know!