Why do we need to talk about Perinatal Mental Health?

By @PNDandMe (Twitter)

Antenatal Depression, Postnatal Depression and Postnatal Psychosis affect a large number of women in the UK. So many women do not receive the care they need because they are either afraid to ask for help, or when they do seek help are not given the access to appropriate care and support. This needs to change, women need to feel able to ask for the help in their time of need and know they will be given the best possible care.

During my weekly #PNDHour chats on Twitter we discuss a wide range of subjects surround Perinatal Mental Health, from improving knowledge in the Antenatal period for both expectant mothers/partners and Health Professionals, support for sufferers and their families, the need for a greater number of mother and baby units in the UK and much more, We are often joined by health professionals, and this input we are given is a great comfort for those who are currently suffering with Antenatal or Postnatal Depression/Postnatal Psychosis.

There are so many misconceptions surrounding Postnatal Depression, such as that it only affect women of a certain social backgrounds, those with previous mental health issues. That it comes immediately after the baby blues, when it fact it can present itself any time in the babies first year. Bonding is something that many women often struggle with when suffering with Postnatal Depression, however just as many women bond perfectly well and often become quite protective of their baby. Depression isn’t fussy, it affects women from all walks of life whether she be younger, older, professional, unemployed, Postnatal Depression can affect any mother.

Health Professionals who come into contact with expectant mothers or new mothers need to be better trained in mental health, I feel very strongly that this training for Midwives and Health Visitors specifically needs to be compulsory not optional as is so often the case. This will give these health professionals the knowledge to help mothers who present themselves with symptoms of Antenatal or Postnatal Depression and enable them to provide the best possible care and support for mothers.

Approximately 1 in 7 women suffer with a Antenatal or Postnatal Depression, these are the ones who find the strength to ask for help. This is huge number therefore the help these women receive needs to be far better, there is always room for improvement when it comes to care and support for these women, too many are failed by the system that is supposed to be there to help them, so often we hear or read about tragic cases of women who so alone, so helpless that they felt their only option was to take their life. This happens too much and things need to change.

Even more shockingly around 1 in 3 women are said to suffer with Antenatal or Postnatal Depression but go undiagnosed, we as a society need to make it easier on these women to seek the help in their time of need, We can make changes all we need to do is keep talking, keep doing what we can to improve the services of those with a Perinatal Illness, and always make sure we do what we can to help these women.

I hope that during the chat on Wednesday 16th April 8-9pm GMT we can continue to connect and bring together those who want to make a difference to the lives of those suffering with Antenatal or Postnatal Depression.We are the ones who can a voice to this hidden illness and fight for changes to the care and support received. The chat uses two hash tags this week #PNDHour #EBNJC look forward to sharing personal and professional prespectives.

No child should ever lose their mother to Postnatal Depression, So we must all work together to continually improve the services for those with Perinatal Illnesses.

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