Monday, 31 January 2011

Do you need to find time for yourself, in all areas of your life?

You may be interested in a couple of articles in a new online magazine. 

Welcome to Inner Space Magazine. This site has been designed to provide a range of articles which can help you find time for yourself, in all areas of your life.

The ‘Mind’ section will include articles which can benefit you in many different ways, including Coaching tips and other therapeutic exercises which can help quieten a busy mind.

The ‘Body’ section is dedicated to helping you find Inner Space which will benefit the body. This could be tips on how to get a good nights sleep, thoughts on healthy eating and latest products which can benefit your body in many different ways.

The ‘Soul’ section is here to help you find ways to create Inner Space for your Soul. This will include topics from Angel Healing, Chakra Cleansing to meditation..

In this first edition there just happens to be an article from me

and also one from Clive

Elaine Hanzak

Sunday, 30 January 2011

What a night! The launch of a new Foundation for postnatal depression

Last night we launched the Joe (Joanne) Bingley Memorial Foundation with a Gangsters and Moll evening at the Galpharm stadium in Huddersfield.
 Joe, who tragically took her own life last year 10 weeks after giving birth to much-wanted Emily Jane, would have been 40 this month. She was a party girl, full of fun and loved to dress up so for the start of her legacy what better way to celebrate her life?
The room had been adorned in a black and white theme with feathers galore. People made the effort to dress up accordingly and the floor resembled a bird cage with the amount of plumage!

My partner Clive (above) used his MC skills to advantage and kept the evening to order. Chris (below) spoke about how his wife Joe would have loved the evening, followed by myself and Ann Girling as two of the trustees, to explain our involvement. We both want to share the hope out there and prevent any more ladies being as ill as Joe became. I learnt that I can deliver a speech in 3 minutes flat! An achievement for chatty me!

Part of this is by informing and educating new parents of what to look out for and to reassure that there should be no stigma and not to suffer in silence. To this end we have produced some 'z-cards' - a business card sized information sheet which expands out to A4. Our vision is for every new parent to have one. We would LOVE a company to sponsor them! Last night we were able to distribute them for the first time.
In addition we had our first newsletter available.
Dinah Wilde (below), another trustee worked so hard on both of these.

I admit that I had been expecting tears but the tone really was one of hope and celebration. The staff at the Galpharm were brilliant and our meal was lovely. Highly recommend them!

The raffle and auction had been well supported by a range of individuals and business. Clive was on form getting people to dig deep! The evening raised an amazing £2100 which will go towards more 'z-cards'.

Finally we were entertained by the talented band Hope and Social A lovely group of people who spent lots in the auction too! Thanks guys! xx

I feel very proud and honoured to be part of team now who will go forward with our aims:-
  • Raise awareness and de-stigmatise Postnatal Depression, by stimulating open discussion about the illness and its treatment.
  • Provide access to information and support to mums, dads, partners, families, and friends affected by Postnatal Depression
  • Support research to identify the causes of the increasing number of deaths due to Postnatal Depression, examine the key risks and issues that effect sufferers from Postnatal Depression, and what can be done to help them
  • Ensure Medical Services follow appropriate standards and guidelines, and patients know what should be available to them.
Well done to everyone involved in such a fab night and a huge thank you to all those who supported the evening with attendance, prizes and contributions.

We did you proud Joe.
Now our mission is to make parenthood happier for others.

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Training needs survey for Perinatal and Infant Mental health care staff

The NW Mental Health Improvement Programme (MHIP) have issued this bulletin:

Training needs survey for Perinatal and Infant Mental health care staff

Service users and carers, who use Perinatal and Infant Mental Health services, have identified where they feel there are knowledge gaps for practitioners working in this area of care, resulting in problems accessing appropriate services.

The Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Project at NHS North West decided to undertake a survey across the North West to identify the training needs of professionals and non-professional workers providing Perinatal and Infant Mental health care. A link to an online survey was sent out in December 2010 to key networks to enable the involvement of as large a sample of respondents as possible. The survey was closed on January 10th with an excellent 288 respondents completing the survey.

There was a spread of respondents from across both primary care and specialist and acute services, maternity care, child and adolescent mental health, adult mental health settings, children's services, children's centres and the third/voluntary sector, with all the major professional groups in those services well represented. Over half of the sample had been in their posts for over five years with 32% having worked in those posts for over 10 years.

66% of people had received prior training in mental health and 59.4% thought that Perinatal and Infant Mental health issues were very relevant to their roles. By far the largest demand for training indicated (57.6%) was in parent-infant relationship assessment skills, closely followed by Perinatal Mental Health assessment skills (52.4%). Risk assessment, psychotherapeutic skills and overall awareness of Perinatal and Infant Mental Health issues were also highlighted as areas where a significant number of respondents felt they needed further education and training.

Most survey respondents identified short courses of 1-2 days in length as a preferred way of receiving education and training (63.5%). Teaching seminars lasting a couple of hours were also a popular method. 29.5% chose e-learning methods and shadowing is seen as desirable by almost 20%. Almost 80% of respondents were not currently accessing training. Of those that were, it was delivered in a wide variety of ways from special interest groups to national and accredited courses, the Royal Colleges, local multi-agency training groups and some individuals.

The level and the depth of responses indicate that this is a key area for workforce development that would benefit from a more coherent training and professional development framework to guide and support workers to deliver improved services to infants and their families.

For more information about the survey please contact: Anne Sheppard, Assistant Director for the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Project at NHS North West on

It comes as no surprise that more training is needed and wanted! We just need to fund it somehow. Perhaps that is where Joe Bingley Memorial Foundation may have a role? 

Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

At last I can announce an exciting new development around postnatal illness!

For several months now I have been involved with a new charity which launches on Saturday night in Huddersfield.
The Joe (Joanne) Bingley Memorial Foundation has been set up following the death last year of a new mother who tragically took her own life. Her husband Chris wants to see her legacy in creating systems where maternal mental health is considered as important as physical needs so that their daughter Emily Jane will be properly cared for when she becomes a mother.
I was asked to be a trustee and accepted the honour as it's aims are the same as mine:-
  • Raise awareness and de-stigmatise Postnatal Depression, by stimulating open discussion about the illness and its treatment.
  • Provide access to information and support to mums, dads, partners, families, and friends affected by Postnatal Depression
  • Support research to identify the causes of the increasing number of deaths due to Postnatal Depression, examine the key risks and issues that effect sufferers from Postnatal Depression, and what can be done to help them
  • Ensure Medical Services follow appropriate standards and guidelines, and patients know what should be available to them
I also feel a double-edged angle because my sister Claire gave birth to her daughter Sophie 4 days before Joe had Emily. As a sufferer of postnatal depression it has been a real privilege to witness with my sister how early motherhood should and can be. In contrast I am deeply aware of the indescribable loss for Emily, Chris and all their family and friends for not sharing that joy with Joe. And the fact that Joe herself, a wonderful bright, bubbly and caring lady is not here to be the mother that she had always dreamed of being.

Joe would have been 40 years old this month so we decided to celebrate her life by launching her Foundation on Saturday night.  It is to be a fun night at the Galpharm Stadium in Huddersfield with a Gangsters and Molls theme! My Clive will be MC for the evening, there will be a raffle and auction and fun to be had by all. Joe was a party girl!

I am proud to attach a copy of the first newsletter for the Foundation.  

I would be so pleased if you would pass it around your contacts too. If you would like to be on a mailing list for others please let me know at 

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 24 January 2011

Support for those who self-harm

During my most period of puerperal psychosis I began to physically hurt myself. Perhaps at the time it was a way of trying to focus my 'wild' mind and causing myself pain momentarily gave it something to focus on? Perhaps it was a cry for help? Perhaps it was the only thing I felt I could control in a mind that has lost its grasp on reality? Whatever the reason I got better!

I admit that prior to my illness the notion of self-harm was alien to me and I could not understand why anyone would do such a thing.Although the reasons vary I now do have an empathy about it and am keen to help others also find a way to make progress in their lives. In the NW of England we have the No Secrets support group and I share their latest news with you:-

I am emailing to let you know of change of contact details for the No Secrets support group in St Helens.

You may be pleased to hear that No Secrets are now expanding to the Wigan borough, thanks to the support of 5 Boroughs and independent funders. I will let you know when the Wigan group is up and running.

Meanwhile the St Helens group is now being facilitated by one of our current members, Tina, who is keen and passionate about helping and supporting others. The group still meets every Wednesday between 6-8pm in the Millennium Drop-in Lounge on Bickerstaffe St, St Helens. New members can meet up with Tina before the group should they wish to familiarise themselves with the surroundings. This is optional.

Though we take referrals from professionals, we encourage individuals to approach us themselves, giving them some autonomy. If necessary, professionals or family members can accompany a new individual for the first few sessions. We do recommend that the individual come alone when possible.

If you'd like to pass on any details of the group in St Helens, or you wish to speak to somebody regarding the service we offer please contact Tina: or you can call her on 07863 736647

For more information about the Wigan group or to pass on contact details to those who require support, please contact myself; Kerri or call me on 07846 889 300

Our website address is:

Thanks for your support :-)

Kerri Jones, Co-Founder No Secrets

07846 889 300

Here are links for their leaflets

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 17 January 2011

Happy Birthday to 'Eyes without Sparkle - a journey through postnatal illness'!

Six years ago today I received the first copy of my book 'Eyes without Sparkle - a journey through postnatal illness'. I remember the postman bringing it and Dom, Nick and I sat in the bedroom as I opened it. It seems like yesterday in some ways and a lifetime away in others. I know at the time that I felt that first copy the pride at having achieved it and also the notion that if it went no further than for me, I was content. It was a huge part of my recovery, yet would it achieve my aim of offering hope and help to others?

Today on reflection, I thought I would review briefly was has happened in those years. Perhaps it may inspire others who want to share their story of triumph over adversity?

The book has literally been sold worldwide! I get messages not just from the UK but Canada, Australia and Malta to name a few! I still find it surreal that people across the globe feel they 'know' me!

The biggest impact has been that two people have told me that my story was the difference between them taking their own lives or not. I am so humbled by such testimonies and if I do no more with my life then my purpose has been fulfilled.

It seems not only has it saved lives but also encouraged others (with other relevant support) to go on to have other children after a previous episode of postnatal illness.

Care of others has been improved judging by support groups set up as a result of my story and also in the individual actions of health professionals and students.

I am told relationships have been saved between new Mums and Dads and in some cases between new Mums and their Mums. Families whose loved one was/is poorly have told me how my story gave them to hope they needed when their 'new mother' was in the dark place I once was.

I left my teaching career the summer after my book was published and have spoken in and/or visited many countries as a result including  UK, USA, Australia, Dubai, Belgium, Latvia, Italy. A French edition of my book is now published.

My audiences have included health professionals and students, midwives, nurse, doctors, NHS leadership, business communities, Children's Centre staff, parents, school children, support groups, Samaritans, mental health groups, charities, Chamber of Commerce to name but a few! I haven't counted the number of delegates!

I have appeared on BBC Breakfast and local BBC news; national radio and local radio stations and many national newspapers, journals and magazines. My website and blog have hits from across the globe.

I have sat on several committees and meetings involved in improving perinatal and infant mental health; been a critical reader for nursing programmes for the Open University; am an expert registered with and trustee for a Foundation formed in memory of a lady who tragically took her own life last year.

Financially the costs to me have been huge having left a steady teaching job but my new career satisfaction is immeasurable.

Personally I know I have grown and changed in many ways. Nick and I are now divorced and Dom lives with him. They both remain supporters of my career. Dominic, now approaching 15 is a wonderful boy and makes us proud on a daily basis. He is now taller than me!

Following a hysterectomy last year I am healthy and although it was an ordeal in the years up to the operation I am so glad I had it done now!

My parents have yet again supported me through the last few years, not just with a home and meals, but their unconditional love and hugs. My younger sister Claire and husband Martin had baby Sophie last year and she is a source of joy to us all.  My Grandma passed away a few years ago but not a day goes by without me thinking of her and my Grandpa - especially as my partner Clive Gott has many of his traits! Grandpa didn't climb mountains or run deserts but he had a great sense of fun, warmth and delight in life. My brother Kevin is now a Grandpa with the arrival of Alana last year to daughter Indra and husband Philip. My sister in law Annie continues to work hard along with Kerita. Cousins Brendan and Dominic are still good friends although the family holidays have changed.

Some of my friendships have faded, other new ones begun in this next phase of life. Sue Woodward remains a true and beautiful friend in every way.

As this year begins I look forward to continuing to spread my messages about the impact of postnatal illness.

All of the above deserve my thanks but words are not enough. I can only show them that appreciation by the differences I can make to others and in the happiness of myself.

Yes life still can be a roller coaster but the difference these days is that there is a rationality to it, unlike the days of postnatal illness.

If you would like to comment on any impact I have had to your life, please feel free to add it.

My life may have taken a new path than the one I had expected and the exciting thing is who knows where it will take us!

For being part of my journey, I thank you and if I have helped in yours I am delighted.

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 13 January 2011

How slowing down can reduce stress - and save you money!

I have a confession. Just before Christmas I had picked up Dom from his Dad's and with hot chips in the car from the Chippy we headed off to my parents. We wanted to be back in time for Harry Hill on TV and a sense of pride took over when Dom said he bet we wouldn't make it. We did ... but after passing the speed camera just a few yards from my parents road several weeks later my fine and 3 points came through. I had been snapped at doing 37mph in a 30 speed limit. I have been driving for 27 years and this is the first time I have been 'caught'.

I was given the option of a fine or attending a speed awareness course. I chose the latter and am so pleased I did. Myself and about 40 other people queued like naughty children at the reception of the Holiday Inn at Leeds/Garforth where I had chosen to do the course. Once in the room we read the instruction on the flip chart to fill in certain pages of our workbook. In silence we did. When we were all assembled Shirley, our tutor for the 4 hour session, told us we could speak to each other and it wasn't a test! I never did a detention at school (I was good!) but that's how it seemed.

Shirley was wonderful! She is a driving instructor and guided us through the work book over the morning. She used the name cards in front of us which made it far more friendly and there was plenty of interaction.

There were the shocking videos of pedestrians being knocked over by cars going too fast and a very moving clip of parents left devastated by the death of their daughter due to her friend speeding.

We discussed the excuses we give for speeding - often due to being late; numbers killed by speeding; how you/your life would be affected for either killing a pedestrian and/or the impact on your family; recognising speed limits; being aware of hazards and how to cope with them.

The most useful things I learnt were:

1. If there are street lights then the limit is 30 mph unless it says differently.
 Maybe I should know this but after 27 years it is a long time since I read the highway code

2. You don't have to always be in top gear! I was taught that the car engine needed you to change up asap as it was kinder on the engine. For 27 years I have been like Penelope Pitstop in an endeavour to do this! Shirley explained that cars no longer need you to do this so in a 30 zone keep in a lower gear which will help keep your speed down. Woo hoo! It works! I am now one of those people who sticks to the limit comfortably!

3. In recent weeks whilst I have had to drive Clive around post-surgery I have become very aware of my driving (ladies, don't you just love your partner in the passenger seat?). At the time it was often snowy and icy so I was much slower. He did give me tips on driving in such conditions and I am more confident about it. But since then I also found it better to 'tootle' along, especially on the motorways. I don't mean at a dangerously low speed to upset others but now I average about 60 mph. The result is that I get to my destination a few minutes later but I am calmer, have reduced my risks of injury but also notice a big difference in fuel consumption. Clive is now back in his own car (until the next knee is done in a few weeks) but he tells me he too has become a tootler and finds journeys far less stressful as a result.

I found the morning extremely useful and feel that it would do us all good to have a driving refresher every now and then. Okay so maybe I am feeling rather righteous about my driving at the moment though but the main lesson I learnt is that NONE of the reasons we give for speeding justify the death of someone else.

In future perhaps I will consider the cost of luke-warm chips against the cost of killing someone. It just isn't worth it.

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Joining the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Network eDiscussion forum

Have you signed up for the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Network eDiscussion forum?

You can do this now by sending an email to with JOIN in the subject field.

The eDiscussion forum compliments this monthly eBulletin and enables you to ask questions, share challenges and exchange ideas with colleagues. It is managed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Centre for Quality Improvement.

For more information see the perinatal and infant mental health pages on the ChiMat website at

Elaine Hanzak 

Monday, 10 January 2011

Art for the mind, body and soul

Being creative helped me in the past to make my world (mind, body and soul) a better place. When I was in hospital, due to puerperal psychosis, teaching another patient to knit dolls clothes for her daughter was huge therapy for me in several ways.  This time last year when I was recovering from surgery the knitting needles were out again for baby clothes for my niece and god daughter. Actually writing my book 'Eyes without Sparkle'  was also a huge creative, therapeutic and ultimately useful activity that has also helped others. My partner Clive during his convalescence from knee surgery decided to make some pictures for the lounge. He used leaves we collected whilst walking the dog!

If you are saying 'I'd like to do that but haven't the time' perhaps you would benefit from a copy of his new book hot off the press called 'It's not 'your' time, it's the time you have'.

However, being creative at other times is also a wonderful way to pass the time and make yourself (and others) feel better in the process. So turn off that tv (or PC!) and get busy!

Here are some more ideas


Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 7 January 2011

NHS North West Perinatal & Infant Mental Health (PIMH) Service Improvement Project - survey

As part of the NHS North West Perinatal & Infant Mental Health (PIMH) Service Improvement Project, a short survey has been devised (4 minutes maximum to complete) to identify current training and educational needs across a wide range of agencies and services.

We would be very grateful if you could complete the survey here:

All responses are anonymous.

The survey will remain open until Sunday 9th January 2011.

It is important to get as wide a coverage as possible across organisations and settings, therefore please distribute to your local professional and service networks.

Thank you for your help.

Dr Cheryl Power                                               Anne Sheppard
Clinical Psychologist                                      Assistant Director for
& Service Improvement Lead                    Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Improvement

12 most ridiculous baby trends of today

If you fancy a chuckle have a look at these 12 most ridiculous baby trends of today!

Sadly though I sometimes think that the media, peer pressure and marketing leads us to believe that unless we spend a fortune on some products we are 'bad' parents. If you are suffering from postnatal depression this can be an added pressure.

What babies need is love ... the heated wipes box can be done without!!!

What do you think is silly?


Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Teenage Pregnancy

Firstly as this is my initial post for 2011 - Happy New Year! I hope it is healthy, happy and prosperous. My late Grandma always used to say 'if you've got your health, you have everything'! Hence that is why I keep on trying to help those affected by postnatal illness.

My baby niece Sophie continues to teach me the need to enjoy babies (and life) for the MOMENT.

Each time we meet she has a new skill and it is a joy to experience.

One group of mums that I am often asked about are the teenage ones.

Here are some links to useful resources

In Liverpool A Quiet Place has some lovely packs and a relaxation CD suitable for all parents but also teenage ones

Please let me know of other good resources and I will add to this list.

Elaine Hanzak