Thursday, 21 October 2010

Postnatal depression event by Birmingham LINk

This week I spoke at an event organised by Birmingham Link called Raising the Roof on Postnatal Depression. It was a very impressive day!

Elsie Gayle from the Women's Health and Maternity Action Group, had invited me to be the opening speaker for the day. I briefly outlined my story; the signs and symptoms to spot and my HANZAK principles of how to help our own and others mental health.
I did refer to the excellent book on postnatal groups by Lynn Bertram which I recommend is read by anyone involved in pregnancy.
I am becoming much more aware of the legacy of postnatal issues, e.g. the lasting feeling of 'failure' some women feel after a C-section; unresolved issues around breastfeeding; loss of identity and in some cases, after IVF or previous still birth. We must give women an opportunity to talk about these things or they can affect their lives for many, many years.

Elsie gave an opening address about her group
The Women’s Health and Maternity Services action group has been active since the first days of Birmingham LINk and has achieved highly in terms of engaging with communities and becoming the voice of women in the city. If you are passionate about health and social care for women, then feel free to join this group and make a positive impact in their lives.

Rajinder Rattu, Chair of Birmingham LINk, also gave an outline of their work. I was amazed to hear that they are all volunteers! Birmingham Local Involvement Network (LINk) is an independent body that listens to your views and concerns about health and social care and works with you to bring about positive change. Our goal is to give citizens of Birmingham an active role in the transformation of health and social care in the community.

Following myself were Philomena Gales, (Pan Birmingham Commissioning Manager, Maternity) who outlined the Maternity Commissioner's Perspective; Tom Howell (Primary Care Mental Health Commissioner, antenatal mental health clinic) who spoke from the mental health commissioners viewpoint; followed by Kathy Senessie (specialist midwife for disadvantaged women) and Giles Berrisford (consultant psychiatrist) who told us about other women who had been ill and their treatments.

We then heard from Jasvinder Sandhu, from Ashram Housing, who presented the 'hot off the press' report 'Time to Talk about Postnatal Depression - a report on Mental Health Inequalities in Birmingham.See more details here 
Some of their references : - 

Ambrose Koryang, a psychiatric nurse, gave an excellent account of postnatal depression experienced by fathers, including video clips from Desperate Housewives (season 7) where a character is given this diagnosis.;episode

We then had lunch being entertained by a group and an amazing Bollywood dancer, from My time counsellors.

Belinda Phipps, CEO of the National Childbirth Trust (nct) presented 'Putting PND into perspective' and spoke about her charity's aims to improve new parents mental health, e.g. with a supportive infrastructure and positive perceptions.

We finally heard from a local GP, Dr. Sharmin Sonday, about her wonderful approaches for new parents. She was late because she was listening to a patient - hooray!

The hall was filled with some excellent forms of help and information:-

Local nct group - for Birmingham area NCT members in your area volunteer to help support parents and parents-to-be by providing practical support and hosting a range of social get-togethers and activities.

Wolverhampton Sexual Abuse Forum - a sensitive Practice Guide 

I picked up a self help guide for postnatal depression written by Heart of Birmingham Teaching NHS PCT but cannot find it on the internet. This one is similar  


Parent's Guide to Money   

I also picked up a small and lovely magazine called Beautyshop, aimed at promoting positive mental well-being within the inner city areas of Birmingham. Contact Caron Thompson at for future issues.

I also met some inspiring people from My Time  a social enterprise that provides holistic and intercultural psychological services based in the heart of the country. We are a community Interest Company based in the West Midlands that delivers award winning, evidenced based, culturally sensitive and professional counselling and support services.

One of their team, Rhona Campbell, is taking part in an Endurance Trek to the Arctic Circle in November to raise funds for KidsCompany/my time. Contact her on 0121 766 6699 or 
Good luck Rhona!

I was also informed about the importance of the registration of religious marriages, by the Bordesley Green Neighbourhood Forum, which is aimed at raising awareness of registering Islamic marriages to be recognised under British law but also to other religions. For more information contact

During the day I was interviewed by Unity fm radio and there were also reporters from the BBC and ITV!

Many congratulations Birmingham LINk on an excellent event. There is now a video of the day at

Also thanks to my lovely friend Nic Swaby for letting me stay with her the night before. Nic has some stunning handbags and jewellery for sale -
We had a very tasty meal too at The Stag at Offchurch .

Elaine Hanzak

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Elaine said...
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