Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Why Mummy's sad - Radio One extra documentary today

I was delighted to be contacted by a journalist from BBC Radio 1Xtra who was putting together a documentary on postnatal depression.

The documentary entitled Why's Mummy Sad will be played out live in two parts. The first part will go out at 1:45pm and the second part around 2:10-2:15pm on Wednesday March 31st.

Here is the link

Have a listen!

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Making a good start to family life

Publication of Maternity and Early Years - Making a good start to family life

The Government has published Maternity and Early Years - Making a good start to family life which aims to strengthen the 0-5 offer set out in Support for All: the Families and Relationships Green Paper to help families get off to the best start, even before the birth of their baby. It is available to download at

The document has been developed jointly by the Department of Health, The Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, drawing on the views of parents, children's centre staff and local health practitioners.

"Maternity and Early Years - Making a Good Start to Family Life" makes clear the case for helping families to give their baby the best possible start in life and sets out a vision of renewed and more integrated maternity and early years services that put the excellent clinical care already available at the centre of a wider network of family support:

- with commitments to consult on new entitlements for women to access maternity services early in pregnancy and make important choices around where to have their baby;

- where local services will join up so that families have continuous care and support from early pregnancy to at least the child's sixth month

- with a named children's centre contact offered to parents early in pregnancy, who will invite them into the children's centre, and access to a health visitor for every children's centre;

- where families will also be offered more help to prepare for parenthood so they can give their baby the best possible start in life

- with new antenatal education opportunities rolled out in settings that suit parents and with a further focus on the opportunities for fathers to get more involved

- including an invitation for both parents to attend a Family Start meeting at their children's centre and an opportunity to agree a Parents' Plan together; and

- understanding that families will have very different needs, and that some may want more support in preparing for parenthood, with extra support for those families that need it

- for instance by expanding the Family Nurse Partnership to help young, vulnerable first time families.

 Today Ann Girling and I are presenting our programme around maternal mental health to staff from Children's centres in Chester. Looks like we are doing our bit!

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 29 March 2010

Are you interested in improving performance through wellbeing & engagement?

Are you interested in improving performance through wellbeing & engagement?

Well the new has arrived!

It is aimed at Higher Education institutions but has far wider implications.

The new website is the home of the two-year HEFCE and SFC funded Improving performance through wellbeing and engagement project which follows on from the successful 2009 pilot project, Creating success through wellbeing in higher education.

They aim to make the go-to place for information, resources and advice on establishing, developing and improving your institution's wellbeing and engagement initiatives.

To celebrate the launch of the new website, there is a first issue of the new e-newsletter which includes news, views and updates on wellbeing and engagement topics as well as upcoming events, resources and more.

The e-newsletter is part of the benefits enjoyed by subscribers to the website which also include full access to all their case studies, toolkits and resources as well as mentoring through their expert panel.

Thanks to funding from HEFCE and the Scottish Funding Council, they are able to offer a free trial subscription to HEIs in England and Scotland which will give full access to the site until 31st August 2010. Sign up now at

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 26 March 2010

Health Visitor Direct

As a new parent you are often faced with daily dilemmas about what to do with your new baby. In days gone by we could rely on a regular health visitor - sadly those days are going, much to my disappointment and disgust. So who can help?

Health Visitor Direct is the leading Online Health Visitor Free service dedicated to advising parents regarding any parenting matter. We are aware that your named Health Visitor offers an invaluable service. However her role does not continue into the evenings and weekends, therefore we are here to bridge that gap.
Our team of qualified Health Visitors will aim to answer your question within 24 hours. At Health Visitor Direct we are a dynamic team of Health professionals each with our own young families. Our advice is up to date, research and evidenced based.

Here is a link to their article in Every Child Journal 

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Want to know about CHaMP?

At the ChiMat event last week I also learnt about CHaMP.

What is CHaMP? (Child and Maternity Partnership)

A national service improvement resource for Child Health and Maternity Services funded and supported by the Office of the Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) Chief Executives and the Department of Health (DH).
It acts as a vehicle for consultancy and capacity building for service improvement with particular expertise in integrated working across health and social care. This offers it a unique position in the innovation and improvement field as it is able to provide support for service delivery, joint commissioning ,and  knowledge sharing across multiple stakeholders and strengthening partnership arrangements.  It should be acknowledged that CHaMP is at present a small resource with finite capacity but is one of the few resources available that exclusively focuses on child health and maternity services.

Visit their website here  

Any service and resource that brings child and maternal mental health together has to be a good idea! I look forward to this one growing.

Elaine Hanzak

Postnatal depression - a useful blog for Mums and Dads

Mental health difficulties after birth are a global problem and maternal mental health is one of the Millennium goals set by the United Nations. /

As such I try to keep a eye out for useful resources across the globe. In the light of recent progress in the US for maternal mental health I came across a blog by Lauren Hale, who is based in Georgia.

She links to some useful resources especially for Dads.

Have a look at

Elaine Hanzak


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Parental Mental Health and Child Welfare Network Study Day

You may be interested in a study day run by Parental Mental Health and Child Welfare Network to be held on April 30th in Birmingham.

The Parental Mental Health and Child Welfare Network / is a development Network set up to promote joint working between social care and health staff working with parents with mental health problems and their children. This includes encouraging joint understanding across adult mental health and children’s services and raising awareness of good practice in whole family thinking and working.
The Network is led by a steering group of representatives from leading mental health, family, children's and carers’ organisations and networks as well as service users who are parents. It is coordinated by the Social Perspectives Network and supported by the Department for Children Schools and Families. We aim to involve service users and carers in every aspect of the Network development and evaluation to make sure that the Network's activities are user-focused. 

Have a look at the draft programme of the day here

I have been to events by this group before and would recommend it.

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The British Psychological Society

The British Psychological Society is the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK.

It has national responsibility for the development, promotion and application of psychology for the public good, and promotes the efficiency and usefulness of its members by maintaining a high standard of professional education and knowledge.

You may be interested to know that their Annual conference is soon to be held in the very pretty town of Stratford-upon-Avon.
The link for full details is here

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 22 March 2010

Postpartum Depression Legislation Becomes the Law of the Land!

Many congratulations to the inspiring and tireless work done by many in the USA as now

Postpartum Depression Legislation Becomes the Law of the Land!!

Read the story here

Well done to all and we look forward to seeing improvements for many.

Elaine Hanzak

Like to know how depression feels?

I came across this article at the weekend.

I think he makes some great points and insights into real 'depression'.

What do you think?

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 19 March 2010

300th Posting! And some national progress on Child and Maternal Mental Health in ChiMat!

Yesterday I attended the ChiMat second annual conference at the Royal York Hotel. For the past 10 years I have been involved in some way across the UK (and beyond) in trying to increase the awareness and improve the facitilties for infant and maternal mental health. I have met some amazing, passionate people who have the same aims as I do but time after time there has been the feeling that although there are some excellent areas of good practice there was nothing central to bring it altogether.

Finally we have ChiMat (Child and Maternal Health Observatory) which  provides information and intelligence to improve decision-making for high quality, cost effective services. It supports policy makers, commissioners, managers, regulators, and other health stakeholders working on children's, young people's and maternal health.

The great mailing list on infant and maternal mental health which had been run by Janet Cobb via jan-net is to be transferred here too.

The event was well attended and there were workshops showing some of the data tools which are available to help in planning for this area.

Heather Gwynn, director of the Chief Nursing Officer's Directorate at the Department of Health, opened the day and I was thrilled to hear her say of how we must also try to find ways to measure compassion, care and decency which is so important. Reference was made to the Mid Staffs report on NHS failings
and the value of listening and learning from the patient experience. So I felt justified to be there and will continue in my efforts to be heard and make a difference, no matter how small!

I will post other sources of information here next week from the event but for now I want to go and cuddle my 5 week old niece!

Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Need info on health aspects of violence against women and children?

The Department of Health works with other government departments to further understanding, awareness and responses to a number of violence-related areas.

There is a very useful list of resources relevant to this area they have complied here:-

Also have a look at

(Thanks to Shaman Burchell for this information).

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Postnatal depression - some stories and tips

If you need some advice over what may help in the first year after giving birth, especially for couples and listen to other stories have a watch of these clips from Insight (Australian TV programme).

Elaine Hanzak

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Happy Mothering Sunday .. but spare a thought ....

Happy Mothering Sunday .. but spare a thought for those mothers and children who are not together today.

I am delighted and appreciative today that I am spending it my with darling Dominic and my wonderful Mum. She is equally giddy because we are all having a big lunch later at my sisters with new baby Sophie, and my brother Kevin and Brendan are also here. All her chicks together!

But experience has taught me to also be aware that these 'celebration days' are not necessarily so for many, in fact they make an existing pain worse. Feelings of loss, isolation and other negative emotions can be even greater.

There will be many today mourning the loss of their mother.

Some will be mourning the loss of a child.

Some will be apart from their children through no fault of their own (see MATCH for support).

Some may not be together due to living too far away or working or being split between in-laws.

Some may not be together due to a family row (perhaps this is the one to ask, is it worth it? Would it be so hard to pick up the phone and let bygones be bygones?).

Some may be with their new baby but finding it all just too much and have trouble bonding, be suffering from postnatal depression or just exhausted!

If today is more of a negative one for you may I suggest you are good to yourself?
Perhaps contact someone you know who also may not feel like celebrating but just go and have a treat.

Try my theory of appealing to your senses and indulge.

But if it helps, someone is aware that today may be hard for you and is appreciating what they have.

With love,

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Do pregnant women face growing expectations to be ‘perfect’ mothers?

 I was interviewed following my presentation at the Royal College of Midwives event in Wales about my feeling that we need to lower the bar for 'normal' when it comes to pregnancy and birth.

Read the article here:

Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Royal College of Midwives UK Welsh board - St. David's Day conference

On Thursday 25th February I had the pleasure to speak at the Royal College of Midwives UK Welsh board conference.

The evening before the event was spent with a lovely dinner at The Park Plaza hotel
The venue for the event was the Swalec stadium

The programme began with an address by Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, Rosemary Kennedy  who spoke about Midwifery 2020 . This programme of work will look at maximising the midwifery contribution to improving the experience of women during their maternity care to meet the health and social care needs of a rapidly changing population and improve outcomes for mothers, babies and families.

We then heard from Dr Margaret Oates OBE NHS East Midlands Clinical Lead for Perinatal Psychiatry and Medical Director East Midlands. She spoke about the role of the midwife and importance of maternal mental health.
 Eleanor Forrest (Midwifery Lecturer, Glasgow Caledonian University) then told us about the course they run on maternal mental health.
Alice Howard and Francesca Hopwood Road (Financial Capability Division, Financial Services Authority) spoke about their services and help for people with mental health problems 
Kathryn Gutteridge, Consultant Midwife, Former RCM Council Member; current Chair of National Consultant Midwives Forum spoke passionately about her own experiences of motherhood and the Hope Clinic she is now running.
Victoria Vivilaki a Midwifery Lecturer from Athens, Greece spoke about the work she does.
Gail James, perinatal nurse and Francesca Fearn, occupational therapist,  Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend discussed  PRAMS – a Perinatal Response and Management Service project.

My favourite audiences tend to be midwives and I look forward to addressing more!

See the report of the day here:

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Are you one of the six in ten?

I have just received details of this report via Mental Health News Bulletin.

Six out of 10 people (62%) in Britain have had at least one time in their life where they found it difficult to cope mentally, according to a survey published today.
Mental health charity Together said the figures showed there should be an end to a "them and us" attitude to the topic.
The research, commissioned to launch the charity's annual Mental Wellbeing Week, found that 70% of people had suffered stress, 59% anxiety and 55% depression.
These were the three most common difficulties encountered by the public.
Three in 10 (32%) said they had been worried they were "cracking up" at one point or another.
Liz Felton, ex-psychiatric nurse and the charity's chief executive, said: "This research shows that mental health and wellbeing is an issue relevant to most people, not just those with diagnosed issues.
"We hope the results go some way to try and reduce the 'them and us' mentality about the topic that can lead to stigma, and perhaps prevents some people from seeking help, or talking about what they're going through when they need to."
The research also revealed that of the people who admitted to experiencing difficulties, 69% had taken at least one step that saw them try to isolate themselves from the outside world or mask how they were feeling, rather than facing up to what was happening.
Matthew Hyndman, who has had difficulties himself, and been supported by the charity, said: "I was bullied at university and it put me into a downward spiral to the point where most of my days were spent in the house staring at the television.
"I now realise this is the worst thing you can do, because the more isolated you become, the harder and more unimaginable it seems that you will ever have the courage to enter 'normal' life again. It was like a vicious circle, but one I broke in the end."
Commenting on the findings, Care Services Minister Phil Hope said: "Other debilitating conditions like cancer or heart disease prompt sympathy and understanding. But mental health is all too often treated as taboo.
"As this survey makes clear, many of us will be affected by mental health problems at some point and that is why we are bringing forward a radical new approach which includes the national roll out of our successful talking therapies programme, NICE guidelines, new action on suicide prevention and a plan to tackle the stigma shrouding mental illness.
"The recently launched NHS Stressline also offers practical and emotional support for people suffering from anxiety, depression and stress."
People seeking advice about wellbeing were urged to visit
:: The survey of 2,000 adults was carried out online by YouGov plc between February 15 and 17.

Let's work together to tackle this taboo!

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 5 March 2010

UKTI NW awards - an evening for a swishy dress!

On Wednesday evening Clive and I were invited to attend the NW UKTI (UK Trade and Investment) awards evening. I joined the Passport to Export scheme offered by the organisation a couple of years ago. 
The scheme helped me appreciate that even as a self-employed person offering a niche service that trading abroad is possible.
They have written an article about me here:-

The venue was the exquisite Knowsley Hall, which I confess until this event didn't know existed! 
Carpets to sink into, chandeliers galore and the lovely touch of current family photographs amidst the historical portraits.
Wow! I was so glad I wore a long dress with a 'swishy' skirt to hold up on the stairs!!! Ladies, you will know what I mean!

Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to UKTI for a lovely evening. I had one of those 'how did I get from a psychotic wreck to here' moments!

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 4 March 2010

The Value of a Smile

One of my messages to health professionals to improve the quality of care they give, is the importance of 'the little things' - the touches that make our experiences that bit more effective. I always suggest that a smile is so important - even if you fake it initially, as when you get one back it makes you genuinely want to smile!

I recently came across this posting on a LinkedIn discussion forum which I felt was worth sharing.

The Value Of A Smile
by Author Unknown

A smile cost nothing, but gives much.
It enriches those who receive,
Without making poorer those who give.
It takes but a moment,
But the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it,
And none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it.
A smile creates happiness in the home,
Fosters good will in business,
And is the countersign of friendship.
It brings rest to the weary,
Cheer to the discouraged,
Sunshine to the sad,
And is nature's best antidote for trouble.
Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen,
For it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.
Some people are too tired to give you a smile.
Give them one of yours,
As none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.

Now go and smile!!!!

Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The first time I have eaten breakfast on a stage!

Yesterday I had an early start to a networking event organised by Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. . It was the first of those to be held in places you do not normally access - based on Area 51 in USA.

This one was at the BT conference/Echo Arena in Liverpool.  . I have attended concerts there before but wasn't aware of the excellent conference facilities. If you are looking for a NW based venue I would highly recommend this one. After drinks overlooking the River Mersey we were ushered through to the main auditorium - wow! Plush red seats in an usual lay-out. I immediately had a desire to speak from the platform one day!

Today though we were lead onto the stage to be served a wonderful breakfast by Heathcotes . I have never had a starter course for breakfast before!

My fellow diners consisted of
It was worth the early start and I look forward to the next one ... to be held in a prison!!

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Mental Health Foundation is IPC’s charity of the year

I am pleased to read that The Mental Health Foundation is IPC’s charity of the year.

Part of the money raised will pay for the creation of a free online service for the general public, which will provide simple advice to those wanting to know how to help a friend, loved one or colleague in a crisis. It supports the charity’s ‘Mental Health First Aid for All’ campaign.

When I give my presentations I give some hints and tips too as most of us have little idea of how to help someone who is suffering with a mental health illness. We  know to send cards, flowers, offer practical help if a colleague, friend or relative is physically unwell but we tend to struggle if we hear they are off work with 'depression'. It is still an illness and they need and deserve TLC just the same.

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 1 March 2010

Special wishes for special parents

I usually keep my blog linked to information about mental health but I am sure that you will permit my indulgence today to wish my amazing parents Maureen and Lawrence Walsh a very happy Golden Wedding today!

50 years ago today they married in Fleetwood, Lancashire and have Kevin, myself and Claire as their three children. Now they have Brendan, Kerita, Indra, Dominic and Sophie as grandchildren. Their unconditional love, support and dedication is non-ending and I am sure I speak for the three of us when I say how much we appreciate it and them.

Mum and Dad didn't have many opportunities as youngsters but they have ensured we were able to and although they may not always have agreed with our choices, they have supported us through thick and thin. All of us have returned home to them at some stage (or two!) during our adult lives and helped us back along a new path again. They often say how proud they are of us but we are also proud of them.

They both worked long and hard so it is good to see them enjoying their retirement and they are often on their travels. Their skill at planning and booking is amazing - even combining Mum's hobby of vouchers and competitions along the way!

It is a shame we can't all get together as a family to celebrate this milestone until Mothering Sunday but at least we shall all be together then - especially with our new family star, baby Sophie.

So Happy Anniversary Mum and Dad,

I love you both so much,