Sunday, 4 July 2010

Are we cutting our noses off to spite our faces? Funding issues for postnatal and mental illness.

Last week my colleague Ann Girling and I delivered another successful day to staff at Children's centres - this time around Croydon, Surrey.

Read her account here

The staff there acknowledged the importance and effects of postnatal illness in their centres yet in other areas of the country we are being told 'it isn't a priority'.

I appreciate that there are other areas but postnatal illness not only affects the mother, but the baby, partner, other relationships, siblings, employment and society are all influenced by poor maternal health - the costs both personal and financial can be huge and there is a wealth of research to back this up. Tomorrow I am meeting a new father whose wife took her own life due to postnatal illness - try telling him that it isn't a priority!

In Leeds the support group I instigated is up and running at no extra financial cost to anyone - I just wish others could see how practical and emotional support can make a massive difference. To a mother who can be crippled by this illness, contact and support can offer real lifelines back to restored mental health and far more cost effective than years of medication and GP visits. Every time I have the pleasure of cuddling my baby niece Sophie and god-daughter Ruby I appreciate how much the illness robbed me and my family of. That is one of the many reasons I strive to make new parenthood easier and healthier for others.

In another instance I was booked to speak to mental health teams, to give them techniques for improving the care of the people within their influence and also for themselves. Sadly it has been cancelled as the priority is for legal training! It makes me sad to see how 'cuts' or the threat of them is making people panic into protection mode for areas which in the long run may prove very short-sighted. I fear that as a result many new families and those affected by poor mental health (25% of the population!) will suffer needlessly as the people who are supposed to be in place to improve their quality of life are being pushed into self-preservation mode for the sake of bureaucracy. Surely the essence of care should be that - CARE!

I am concerned that we are becoming a nation fearful of law suits and a blame culture and one which threatens the very core of helping others. Will the powers that be listen more when they become part of the growing numbers of 'mentally ill' brought on by the pressures if the job? I wonder then who they will want to help them - those who can fill in forms or know how to help them recover?

I appreciate that this may sound like I am spitting my dummy out over a cancelled speaking opportunity. No matter, as I will keep striving to spread my messages! I felt very sorry for the lady who had so wanted me to deliver the training as she appreciated the value of 'care'. My faith and hope remains and I will continue - as Anita Roddick once said 'if you think small can't make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito'!

I am off to buzz!

Elaine Hanzak

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