Thursday, 27 May 2010

Wellbeing Days in Warrington - time to be good to you!

Here is some information about a Wellbeing Day to be held on 12th June and 17th July at Friends Meeting House, Buttermarket Street, Warrington WA1 2NR  (corner of Buttermarket St/Academy Way).

Wellbeing is our natural state of being
When we don’t allow wellbeing we become ill 

Take time to treat yourself and allow yourself to be well

Relax, de-stress, heal and enjoy. 30 minute treatments for £10 with experienced therapists. Choose from treatments including:

Massage Ear candles (£15)

Aromatherapy Massage Indian Head Massage

Reflexology Reiki

Hot Stones Shiatsu

Tarot readings Angel readings

Lots to buy: Natural skincare, crystals, angel bears, aloe products and much more

To book an appointment in advance or for more information

please contact Angelita on 07808 160315  or email

Follow me on Twitter @indigo_spirit

10am – 5pm Refreshments Admission £1

Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A useful directory for counselling

Here is some information about a counselling site you may find of interest:-

Achieving and maintaining mental wellbeing is very important, for both mind and body. However, around one in four people suffers from some kind of mental issue during their lifetime, but many do not seek the help they need to manage or overcome the problem.

Awareness of mental health problems is constantly rising, making it easier for people to recognize the signs and know what help is available. Counselling is regarded as an effective form of treatment for many mental health issues.

The initial decision to take the plunge and accept help is undoubtedly one of the hardest parts of the whole process. However after this decision had been taken, a whole new set of questions can arise with regards to actually finding the counselor.

There are numerous issues to consider – practical and otherwise. What about, for example, location? Despite counsellors’ assured complete confidentiality people may prefer to see a counsellor that is perhaps outside their local area, but still in surroundings they are comfortable in.

And what guarantees that the counsellor is the real deal? There are no laws in the UK that govern counselling, so what’s to stop anyone setting up shop to listen to people’s problems? There are qualifications and professional bodies, but these can often be confusing and over-whelming.

Counselling can take many different approaches – from person-based to psychoanalytic, and it’s important to choose a counsellor with an approach the person will be comfortable with and respond to well.

Counselling Directory was set up to provide a simple, easy, and most importantly un-daunting way of connecting people that need help with the people that provide it. A comprehensive searching tool, the site allows postcode, town and country searches, and produces a list of counsellors registered in this area. Each counsellor has a profile, listing a bit about themselves, their approaches, what areas they deal with, and all their training, qualification and experience and fees.

The site shows which counsellors are registered/accredited with a professional body, and full profiles are only displayed after insurance and qualification documents are checked or membership with a professional body has been verified.

The site has also become a huge information bank – there are articles written by the counsellors, as well as comprehensive information on all kinds of distress – from depression to eating disorders to abuse, to help people identify their problems and become informed, not scared.

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Mersey Care event for Adult Leaners Week.

After I left the prison last Thursday I made my way across to Ashworth hospital at Maghull where Mersey Care NHS trust had put on a day of activites and sessions for Adult Learners Week.

See the flyer here:

There were sessions arranged to fit in with the 5 ways of wellbeing - Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.

Some of the stand and information included:-

Liverpool John Moores University JMU -
Edge Hill University - 
Workplace health advice -
Mersey Care Knowledge and Library service -
Alcohol, mental health and wellbeing -
The Food and Mood project -

Have a look at the Mersey Care Achievements Award details at 
Who do you know that you could nominate?

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 24 May 2010

Enterprising Healthcare - Liverpool 2010 year of Health and Wellbeing event

Last Friday I attended the Liverpool PCT 2010 Year of Health and Wellbeing event at Blackburne House.
See the programme here

Across the UK third sector organisations are delivering outstanding products and services to the NHS. This free one day conference was an opportunity to bring together North West health and social care commissioners with third sector organisations to explore:
  • the potential of the third sector in improving health
  • how the NHS can help achieve this potential
  • how the third sector can meet NHS needs and win contracts 
Mike Farrar, Chief Executive of NHS North West (with whom I shall share the platform with next week at the NW NHS leadership awards) spoke about his vision for adding Social Value to the NHS.

We then had the pleasure of listening to the inspirational Lord Andrew Mawson from Bomley-by-Bow centre.
He is Founder and President of the renowned Bromley by Bow Centre in east London and Co-founder and President of Community Action Network (CAN), a national charity supporting 850 social entrepreneurs across the UK. He is one of the leading social entrepreneurs in Britain and has created a family of projects, which demonstrate in practice the potential of social entrepreneurs. Andrew's career in the social sector has spanned over 25 years.

His work made me think that the efforts I have put into bringing the NH, church and other agencies together in Leeds to form a postnatal depression group (see previous blogs) could be the first of many!

Olivia Butterworth, Third Sector Delivery Manager from the Department of Health gave us 'hot-off-the -press' insight into her role under the new Government and how the 'sector' is going to be involved in working with the NHS.

Claire Dove, chief executive, social enterprise company Blackburne House Group spoke about delivering outcomes.

Wallen Matthie, Race for Health Thinkng Partner spoke to the delegates about Equality and Diversity.

Louise Penfold, passionately told us about her Third Sector showcase - Bubble Enterprises.

Blackburne House provided an excellent lunch - highly recommend them for a conference venue.

Sadly I could not stay for the afternoon.

Delegates were invited to showcase their area of expertise and were given a handout of those who contributed. I shall invite them to add their details as comments to this blog.

Well done to Liverpool NHS trust, Social Enterprise London and the Department of Health for a good event.

Elaine Hanzak

Launch of Antenatal sessions for expectant parents

Last week I was privileged to work with Ann Girling / and the Wellbeing project / for an antenatal session for expectant mums and dads, funded by Halton Council and the Primary Care Trust.

We ran two sessions, one in St. Helens and one in Widnes, Cheshire.
See the press release here

We are waiting for the official feedback of the events but hope there will be more to come.

Project Manager Mark Swift, New mums Emma MacKerllar and Bonnita Collin of Widnes flank author Elaine Hanzak. On the right Halton Borough Council's Angela Haughton.

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 21 May 2010

Many congratulations to Grace - twins after puerperal psychosis!

Not long after my book 'Eyes without Sparkle' was published in 2005 I was contacted by a man who said he felt that one of his employees would be interested in talking to me.

I will never forget that first conversation with Grace as we got excited about the fact that we had both wandered the streets as 'mad women in our night clothes'! We compared our journeys of puerperal psychosis.

Since then we have kept in touch and finally met up a few times last year. In the interim Grace has been writing her story - to be published soon. One thing that I have had to come to terms with was no more children (Dominic is brilliant but I had wanted him to have a sibling as I love mine so much). 
I was prepared to take the risk again, but it wasn't to be. Even at 46 that dream hadn't gone but a hysterectomy last year finally put a stop to it! I now am content being Mum to Dom, Auntie to baby Sophie and godmother to baby Ruby and Katie.

Grace and I discussed the issue that we both felt we wanted to have another child to enjoy it next time - given the right support behind us from the appropriate health and family teams.

So I was thrilled when Grace told me she was expecting twins! All the plans were put in place and big sister Ellie now has Thomas and Maggie as siblings. Mum and babies doing well!

Read their story in the Daily Mirror, 

Many congratulations to all the family!

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Stepping inside HMP Altcourse - life and work on the inside.

This morning I attended an unusual event with Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, who have a series of unlikely venues for networking under the name Area 51. It was at HMP Altcourse, a category B local prison for Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales.

Getting there proved a challenge. I left my parent's home in plenty of time and being organised had set my Sat Nav the night before ..... for the Liverpool venue I was due at in the afternoon!!! Stupid me took ages for the penny to drop as I was so organised, wasn't I?! Once I realised my stupid mistake, I corrected myself and still felt confident I would be on time. However, the postcode takes you to a back lane which is now blocked off and there were no signs telling me otherwise! Luckily for me another car was doing the same manoeuvrings to get out of the fix - we consulted and after several more wrong turns and asking friendly pedestrians we made the venue - late but succeeded where 15 others had not!

14 years ago I had entered another environment which I previously hadn't considered myself 'to be the type' - in a psychiatric hospital. That experience has taught me not to judge others. Many of us have possibly walked a fine line between the right and wrong side of the law and I have a 'there but for the grace of God go I' attitude these days.

The prison is modern, spacious and seems to have a passion for making a positive change for the inmates, providing them with opportunities to work in a variety of workshops and activities. I could almost feel that considering the deprived and poverty-stricken backgrounds some must be from, that HMP Altcourse is comfortable. I was impressed with the relationships between the staff and inmates - all made us feel very welcome.

We ate breakfast in the chapel and then had a tour of some of the workshops and one of the accommodation block. Of course security was very high and every door, gate and fence was locked and unlocked behind us but it was nonetheless an informative and enjoyable morning. Thank you Jenny and team!

Some of the other members I chatted to were

Jon Harris, of Launch Resources which is a recruitment company for IT and financial services.
Joanne Finnerty, branch manger at the business connection
Clare Beavan, Philanthropy Development manager at Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services
Gill Underwood, Recognition Express Wigan and Wirral

John Arnold, Head of Enterprise and Vocational Training at HMP Altcourse.

So where are we going next Jenny?

Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Perinatal and Infant Mental Health eBulletin

Here is the first monthly Perinatal and Infant Mental Health eBulletin produced by the national Child and Maternal Health Observatory (ChiMat) in partnership with the National CAMHS Support Service (NCSS).

This eBulletin highlights the latest resources relating to Perinatal and Infant Mental Health which have been added to the mental health and psychological wellbeing knowledge hub in the last month.

There is a wealth of useful information in this bulletin and I think the layout works very well.

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Perinatal Mental Health Effectiveness Day

Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust is having a Perinatal Mental Health Effectiveness Day on Friday 11th June.

The aim of the day is to enhance the effectiveness of professionals working in or with perinatal mental health settings. Any health professional or representatives from charities or groups related to perinatal mental health and children’s services can attend.

Here is the programme.

Attendance is free and you can register with The venue is the Longford Sports Stadium in Chorlton (Post code is M21 9TA).

What are you waiting for?

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 17 May 2010

I'd like to help companies to show more understanding about mental health problems!

Mental health, stress in the workplace and it's effects on the ecomony and individuals continues to be a major issue.

Look at the news today, for example, on the BBC news is the article that there is a stress link to financial pressures

The charity Mind is calling on companies to improve the atmosphere in workplaces and show more understanding about mental health problems.

Perhaps I can help? Although my mental illness was related to becoming a mother, the signs, symptoms, stresses are applicable to those in the workplace, and I have testimonials to prove it.

Have a look at my brochure here:- 

Please pass on to where it is needed!

Elaine Hanzak

Great new book - 'Psychology for Midwives'

I am delighted that one of my much admired and loved contacts over recent years, Maureen Raynor,  has now had her third book published, along with a colleague of hers, Carole England.

Maureen lets me loose on her midwifery students at Nottingham on a regular basis!

Here are the details of the book from

"Psychology for Midwives" is an excellent aid in grasping the key concepts of psychology in a focused way, clearly demonstrating how the key concepts can be used within modern day midwifery practice settings. This is an easy to use, informative guide, with up to date sources of evidence."
Kimberley Skinner, Student Midwife, Anglia Ruskin University, UK

"Communication isn't just about giving information. It is about creating relationships. This book is studded with academic references, but can also help midwives understand and interact with their clients in a satisfying way." Sheila Kitzinger, Honorary Professor at Thames Valley University, UK

This accessible, evidence-based book explores how important it is for midwives to understand the psychological aspects of care, in order to create positive experiences for mothers and families. The book provides simple explanations for why psychological care matters in midwifery practice and uses different theoretical perspectives of psychology to illustrate how it fundamentally contributes to good midwifery practice.

The book addresses many core concepts and principles of psychology, including:

  • Mother-midwife relationship
  • Emotions during the childbearing continuum
  • Perinatal mental illness
  • Communications in midwifery practice
  • The birth environment
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Providing support to families
  • Attachment and bonding
Reflective questions, activities, illustrations, tables, summary boxes and a glossary help readers navigate the book.

One of the first books of its kind, Psychology for Midwives is essential reading for all midwives, students and allied health care professionals interested in the psychological dimensions of childbearing. 

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 14 May 2010

New postnatal support group in Leeds! Do you want one too?

I am delighted to say that a support group which was my vision for collaboration between NHS, children's centre, voluntary sector and a church has taken off!

No extra funding has been needed - just brought people together!

This morning sees the first session at St.Peter's Church in Morley, Leeds. The group is open across a much wider area and transport can be arranged if needed.

For full information read here

Read the background here in an earlier blog

My thanks go to all those lovely people who have made this possible!

Let me know if you would like me to kick start this in your area!

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 7 May 2010

Beyond postpartum - treating depression in mothers of older children

The Mental Health Foundation have reported on 'Beyond postpartum- treating depression in mothers of older children'.

Depression among economically disadvantaged mothers could last well beyond the postpartum period and become a chronic condition, suggests a new study by researchers at Yale School of Medicine. The study also finds that symptoms could improve with brief treatment.

The results will be presented May 1 by lead author Carol C. Weitzman, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and in the Child Study Center at Yale School at Yale School of Medicine, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia Medicine.

Depression in underserved women of childbearing age is extremely common, and nearly one in five mothers of children age one and older reports moderate to severe depressive symptoms, according to Weitzman.

"This finding reinforces that depression in mothers is not restricted to the postpartum period, and in fact after the postpartum period as children get older, the prevalence of maternal depression may be higher," said Weitzman.

Maternal depression has been linked to health and developmental problems in children. Therefore, to optimize children's health, mothers who are depressed should be identified and treated, said Weitzman. As parents routinely bring their children for check-ups, this may present an opportunity to identify depressed mothers, as so many women do not seek treatment for their symptoms, she notes.

In the study, Weitzman and her colleagues asked 931 mothers to complete a 16-item measure of depression severity before a well-child visit in a clinic that care for disadvantaged children. Women who screened positive were interviewed to confirm that they had depressive symptoms.

Seventy-one mothers with depression were randomly assigned to receive either six sessions of on-site cognitive behavior therapy or case management, which consisted of speaking with a social worker and getting assistance with referrals. Their children's social-emotional functioning was measured before and after treatment.

Results showed that 45 percent of mothers screened positive for depressive symptoms (26 percent had mild symptoms, 13 had moderate symptoms and 6 percent had severe symptoms). All of the women who received treatment showed improvements in their depression symptoms. The scores improved greatly in women who received cognitive behavioral therapy, while those who received case management did not show a dramatic change.

Children under age four whose mothers received cognitive behavioral therapy also had fewer behavioral challenges. No significant changes were reported among the women who received case management or those with children older than age four.

"A depressed parent can have a significant effect on a child," said Weitzman. "Brief on-site treatment can help reduce symptoms of depression in a mother and may also improve her perspective about her child's behavior." 

See the full report here

I feel this backs up my passion to talk to professionals who are in contact with mothers, e.g. Children's centres.

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Wellbeing for pregnant Mums in the NW (Halton and St. Helens)

Ann Girling and I are delighted to be part of the Wellbeing project - a pioneering social enterprise project set up in 2006.

We are running two sessions in May with them - see full details here:

Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Postnatal Depression - Making a difference

I am delighted to present my new brochure of the training day/workshop I have been delivering with Ann Girling, who shares my passion and has professional expertise in helping families affected by poor maternal mental health.

We have done several days now with staff from Children's centres so if you are involved with any and you think we can help them, please pass on the details. Feedback has been brilliant!

See our brochure here: 

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Support for - postnatal illness charity

Facebook has a new cause listed which I hold close to my heart!

For many suffering from postnatal illness there can be a real sense of isolation - an online forum can help readdress this problem amongst others and be a very useful support alongside medical and other assistance.

I am honoured to be patron of

Help support it and spread the word by linking here

Elaine Hanzak