Mental health experiences of mums offer hope to others
Two young mothers have given frank and revealing interviews about mental health issues they experienced after giving birth and how they have received support from a specialist service at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.
Ellie and Emma hope by sharing what happened to them other women will also seek help from CPFT’s Perinatal Mental Health Team. Nadean Saberton, perinatal occupational therapist, who conducted the interviews said: “We would really like to thank Emma and Ellie for being so candid about what happened to them. It is not easy opening up about these kind of issues, but mental health issues around pregnancy are far more common that many mums and their families realise.
“One in five women will experience a mental health problem such as anxiety and depression during their pregnancy and in the first year after birth. Ellie, Emma and our whole team hope women who find themselves in similar situations will watch the interviews, and understanding how to reach out for help and support.”
The films can be viewed on the CPFT’s You Tube channel: www.youtube.com/user/CPFTvideo.
In her interview Ellie (pictured above right with Nadean) discusses how she sought help after the birth of her third child, Nate. Ellie said: “I began having issues with my mental health and post-natal depression following the birth of my first daughter. It sorted of went away after the birth of my second daughter. It was always sort of there, lying dormant, and then when I got pregnant with Nate, I really struggled.”
Ellie was referred to the perinatal team by her midwife and received individual therapy and now regularly meets with other mums who have also had experienced similar mental health issues.
She said: “Even after the initial assessment, it just felt like a weight had been lifted. Suddenly, I had this person who understood, actually sympathised with me, and wanted to support me.
Mother-of-two Emma, who was referred to the service by her GP, says in her interview: “I had been struggling for a long, long time, but the stress of having a new-born and a toddler just magnified it all, and I just got to crisis point.”
Following an initial assessment, Emma was given specialist therapy and she worked with the perinatal team on an action plan personalised specifically her. She said: “It just helped me get through things and work out how I was going to get through the day, and then the next week. Once we’d got through that then everything was better.”
The series of short films also include Ellie and Emma’s experiences of being referred to the service, working with care co-ordinators and peer support workers, and their advice to other mums.
CPFT – which provides mental health and community health care - was awarded about £3 million over the next three years as part of national programme to increase funding for perinatal services across the country by a further £23 million.
The Trust’s Perinatal Mental Health Team offers psychiatric and psychological assessments and care for women with complex or severe mental health problems during the perinatal period. It can also provide pre-conception advice for women with a current or past severe mental illness who are planning a pregnancy. The team includes consultant psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical nurse specialists, social workers, occupational therapists, support workers, nursery nurses and administrative staff. To access the service, women are asked to speak to their GP.
Nadean said: “The development of our team has been a crucial step forward for mothers and mothers-to-be. Good mental health care for mums means better care for their children – and that will have lifelong benefits.”
I have struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my adult life. I was doing pretty well before having my second child, but a baby means a lot of change, tiredness and stress and that made it a high risk time for me relapsing.
The impact of the perinatal mental health team was undoubtedly a huge contribution to keeping me well and safe. Well before my baby was due Emily met with me to discuss what risk factors there might be, warning signs of becoming unwell, and together we made a plan for keeping me well and what to do if I did become unwell.
Right after my baby arrived Emily met up with me - but not as an formal appointment, instead coming to see me at home, have a cup of tea and biscuit, and a baby cuddle! She was so calming of my worries and reminded me of what we'd discuss would help keep me well. We met together pretty frequently during the first few months after my baby arrived, Emily was so good at keeping in touch at just the right level. When I did have a wobble she was right there, I could call/text/email her and she would respond right away and maybe visit or we'd have a phone call.
Emily stayed with me for a year, which sadly is the length of time the perinatal team can be involved for, and she was a real help and strength throughout that time, adjusting how often we met and what we talked about as my life evolved from little baby to almost toddler.
Now, whenever a friend is pregnant and there's a risk of mental health problems, I mention the perinatal team right away and encourage them to get in touch. So if you're in the same position then please do that - you will find it really helpful and possibly essential to keeping you well, and that allows you to look after your baby and the rest of your family as well. Enjoy!