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UK Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week 4-10 May 2020

29th April 2020

The UK Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week will take place next week – 4-10 May 2020, with the theme of ‘Supporting mums during difficult times’.

Although the awareness week was paused 3 weeks ago, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the support need for mums and families seeking advice during this difficult time means that the week will go ahead with a revised focus.  The theme this year is now ‘Supporting mums during difficult times’ which will enable the week to provide a supportive platform where families can be reassured and be signposted to vital resources and safe support which is what people need most at this time at this unusual time.

During this awareness week there is absolutely no pressure to take part in any activities that are run.  People following the week (whether mum, parent, healthcare professional, peer support worker and beyond) will not be asked to do anything such as sharing photographs of themselves to promote the week, during what is for many, a difficult time. All the resources created and provided during the week will be available afterwards for you to pick up when you need it.

Energies will focus on ensuring that parents feel well informed and supported at this time when anxieties are heightened for so many.

Themed days:

Each day will be themed and will have its own unique hashtag:

  • Monday 4 May – The focus of the first day of the campaign will be ‘What is Maternal Mental Health’? We will provide an overview of the different illnesses that affect women in the perinatal period. 
    • Hashtag for the day will be #pmhpWhatIsMaternalMH
  • Tuesday 5 May– We will be focusing on what good support looks like. Support can be wide ranging from advice and help from health care professionals, medication, therapy, help from the voluntary sector and safe peer support. There will be particular focus on alternative support options within the COVID-19 period. Charities, local peer support groups and services will be encouraged to share their details on social media so families know what support is available across the UK. This could include details of the service, contact information, the areas they cover, information on safeguarding policies, training and supervision they have in place for staff and volunteers.
    • Hashtag for the day will be #pmhpAccessingSafeSupport
  • Wednesday 6 May – This is World Maternal Mental Health Day and  Perinatal Mental Health Partnership (PMHP) are UK representatives for the day. Our theme for the day will be ‘The Village’, focusing on how we work together to remove barriers to services so all mums who need services can access them.
    • Hashtag for the day will be #pmhpTheVillage
  • Thursday 7 May – will focus on what support is available for friends and family of those who are experiencing maternal mental illness, with a particular focus on what is available during the COVID-19 period.
    • Hashtag for the day will be #pmhpLookingAfterYouAndYours
  • Friday 8 May – To end the week, we will look at recovery and how it can look different for each person but with the message that it can and does happen. We will be encouraging a virtual ‘Positivity Pot’, publishing and sharing articles, blogs and vlogs about recovery, looking ahead to the future and self-care.
    • Hashtag for the day will be #pmhPositivityPot

PMHP will be resharing content from the week over 9 and 10 May.

Week online activities

  • #PNDHOUR – Following on from the success of the last three years, Rosey from PNDandMe, who is also a member of PMHP, will be running #PNDHOUR on Wednesday 6 May at 8pm on Twitter. Rosey runs this highly successful twitter hour each Wednesday throughout the year at 8pm and discusses different aspect of perinatal mental illness each week.  For more information on #PNDHour see http://pndandme.co.uk/what-is-pndhour/ 
  • Facebook Lives – There will be a full series of interactive Facebook Live sessions, run from the PMHP Facebook Page, focusing on maternal mental health. People watching the live sessions will be able to interact with the hosts and ask questions during some and the sessions will be available permanently to playback via the PMHP Facebook page. To view the sessions and / or take part, simply access the PMHP facebook page at the listed day and time – https://www.facebook.com/PerinatalMHPartnershipUK/
  • Tuesday 5 May at 11am – Signs, Symptoms and what we can offer you with the Association of Postnatal Illness. Join this facebook live from the APNI office to learn about postnatal illness and the help and support they can offer.
  • Wednesday 6 May at 2pm – Hard to reach or easy to ignore – Improving access to maternal mental healthcare in the South Asian Community. Deputy manager of Roshni2, Farah Lunat, will discuss the barriers and challenges South Asian women report when experiencing postnatal mental health difficulties. A discussion will be had on how South Asian mums specifically can be supported and what healthcare professionals and the community should be mindful of.
  • There will also be a session on Facebook with Action on Postpartum Psychosis, collaborating on content with the Institute of Health Visiting and Tommys . Details on these will be announced shortly.

PMHP will also be holding watch sessions via their Facebook page of their suite of previous Facebook Lives. These include:

  • Perinatal OCD with Maria Bavetta and Dr Fiona Challacombe. Perinatal OCD can revolve around significant fear of harm coming to a baby, with upsetting intrusive thoughts, and some people find themselves so distressed that they will take measures to manage their anxiety or prevent their fears coming true.This can be deeply distressing and parents who suffer from these symptoms are often scared of their thoughts. Maria and Fiona discussed these issues.
  • Getting support from Healthcare Professionals with Dr Stephanie De Giorgio. We know that approaching a healthcare professional when feeling low while pregnant or after having a baby can be a difficult step to take. Therefore, GP Dr Stephanie De Giorgio provided tips on how to talk about your symptoms to a healthcare professional and  advised on the steps that may be taken once you have done this to ensure you get support in your recovery.
  • An overview of Postpartum Psychosis. This was a great opportunity to hear from APP professionals and volunteers about how this psychiatric emergency is diagnosed, treated and recovered from.
  • Young mums and their mental health and wellbeing. The Young Mums Support Network and Young Mums Aid are two social enterprises who are working grass roots with mothers in the local community. They ran this Facebook live and discussed some of the real complex challenges young mums face which impacts their mental health and wellbeing.
  • The influence of BAME maternal community groups and mental wellbeing with The Motherhood Group.  This was presented by Sandra Igwe from The Motherhood Group, which is a support network where black women can talk about the issues they are facing.
  • Breastfeeding and antidepressants. Pharmacist Wendy Jones held this session to outline information about taking antidepressants while breastfeeding and which ones are compatible.
  • Post Adoption Depression. Brie, who founded the Colours of Adoption blog, held this session to discuss her personal experience of this little discussed illness to both raise awareness and make a difference for future adoptive families.
  • Peer Support in the Perinatal Period. This session was run by Juno, a perinatal charity in Edinburgh. They outlined the importance of and how powerful safe peer support can be to support mums.
  • Engaging with Health Care Professionals and accessing peer support. Smile Group led this session where they challenged the stereotypical views of what a peer support group is like , provided an overview of what is involved and introduced their pioneering GP appointment checklist which helps mums who find it difficult to verbalise their symptoms.
  • Recovery and talking to your children about your illness – In this session our member Eve Canavan BEM talked about her personal experience of Postpartum Psychosis, recovery and the tools that can support it. She was also joined by her nine-year-old son Joe where they spoke about discussing the experience with him.
  • Dads and mental health. Dads in Mind ran a session dedicated to fathers with a peer support worker and a Perinatal psychiatrist.

Resources you may find helpful 

What can you do to get involved?

Follow PMHP on their social media channels:

Use the #SupportingMumsDuringDifficultTimes and #MaternalMHMatters hashtag on social media when referring to the week and the daily specific hashtags if relating to the daily theme.

Tag the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership in any posts you make during the week

Highlight what your organisation/charity/support group does to support families affected by perinatal mental illness with particular reference with how you are offering support during the COVID-19 period.

PMHP are more than happy to support media requests and will promote your activities for the week! Contact them via [email protected]