APP News November 2021: Giving Tuesday | APP 2021 UK survey | Partner support cycle ride and café group | Black Country project | Mother and Baby Unit petition for North Wales | Drug discovery study | Dates for your diary
Today is Giving Tuesday, an annual event which asks people to do something to support a good cause close to their heart.
As Christmas approaches, APP will be sharing stories from our network, helping to raise awareness of postpartum psychosis (PP) and of how families coped with severe mental illness at this time of year. We want to help give hope to anyone going through a difficult time.
Please follow us on our social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and share our storytellers’ experiences as well as your own messages of hope. You’ll also be able to read stories on our website.
If you can, please also support APP as you do your Christmas shopping. You can help to raise hundreds of pounds in donations for us as you shop online with Amazon Smile and Give As You Live. Both are free to set up and use and the money raised will support our work.
APP 2021 UK survey
If you haven’t done so already, there’s still time to share your experience of care for PP through APP’s 2021 survey. We want to find out about the changes that have happened since our first survey of care for PP ten years ago.
We’re aiming to find out more about inequalities in access to Mother and Baby Units across the UK and the impact of this on recovery outcomes for women and families. The survey asks how many women were treated in MBUs and how far you had to travel. It also looks at the benefits of MBU care versus other forms of care.
The survey takes around 30 minutes to fill in and will be so important in helping with our campaigning over the next 10 years. Follow this link to complete it.
If you would like help with any issues raised by this questionnaire, please get in touch with us via email or visit our community forum. Our Lived Experience Coordinators can talk to you about the support and information available from APP.
Partner peer support cycle challenge
We like to say a huge thank you and well done to APP’s Partner Peer Support Coordinator, Simon, who has just finished his mammoth 852-mile virtual cycling challenge to help raise awareness of the impact of postpartum psychosis (PP) on the partners of women who develop the illness.
Simon’s bike ride took him 41 days as he followed a virtual path between the UK’s Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) – specialist psychiatric facilities for mothers experiencing severe postnatal mental illness. En route, he organised virtual meetings with MBU staff (pictured above) to find out more about how they support partners, and chatted to a number of dads and partners who have been through PP. He also found the time and energy for an interview about his challenge on BBC Radio Surrey and an Instagram live with Keiran at Dad Matters.
Simon has raised more than £800 to support APP’s work through his JustGiving page.
If you are a partner of someone with PP who'd appreciate talking to Simon or one of our other volunteers please don't hesitate to contact him.
New partners café group
APP’s Partner Peer Support project provides support for the partners of women affected by PP via a Facebook page; one-to-one email, phone and video call support; and online group meet ups.
Coordinator Simon has been joined by our new partner peer support worker, Chris Guttridge (pictured right), who experienced PP from the partner's perspective when his girlfriend was admitted to Winchester Mother and Baby Unit in 2013.
Chris says: "I can distinctly remember reading an APP leaflet about postpartum psychosis to try to understand what was happening. It took several years for me to recover from the effect these events had on me and my family and I've had a keen interest in mental health ever since”.
Simon and Chris have introduced a new partners virtual café group which will be held on the third Wednesday of every month from January 2022. If you would like to talk about your experience of supporting a partner through PP or talk to others who have ‘been there’ and can share what helped them you are very welcome to join the group using this Zoom link.
New Black Country peer support project
We’re delighted to welcome another new member of the APP team: Jo Derry (pictured above right with APP Coordinator Hannah) has joined us a Peer Support Facilitator on our collaborative project with Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Jo is working with the two perinatal community mental health teams within the Trust - Walsall & Wolverhampton and Dudley & Sandwell - providing peer support to women affected by PP and their families.
Jo suffered with perinatal mental illness while pregnant with her daughter in 2006 and went on to experience postpartum psychosis after her birth. There was not a great deal of awareness, information or understanding available at that time regarding PP and Jo says she struggled enormously with the stigma she and others attached to it. She had her son in 2010 and was thankfully well after his birth.
With Covid-19 and lockdowns affecting so many people with mental ill health, Jo decided that she wanted a change in career and to focus on helping people who are struggling with mental ill health. She says: "I want to be able to help people who are suffering as I did. I just wish the help and awareness of today was available in my time of need and feel very privileged to now be in the position where I can help other women and families regarding this illness".
Mother and Baby Unit for North Wales - please add your support to this petition
Wherever you live, please support this petition to get a Mother and Baby Unit for families in North Wales.
Almost 5,000 signatures have been added so far but 10,000 are needed to make sure it will be considered for a debate in the Senedd. The deadline for adding your signature is 3rd December.
APP, NSPCC Cymru, MMHA and the Royal College of Psychiatrists are supporting the petition and the campaign to open an MBU in North Wales. At the moment women who develop severe postnatal illness are separated from their baby to get treat or have to travel to England to get help. You can sign the petition here.
Ribblemere MBU award
Congratulations to Ribblemere Mother and Baby Unit in Chorley, voted Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust’s clinical team of the year.
The unit was recognised in the Trusts’s Time to Shine staff awards. The team’s work has made a huge difference to the mothers and babies since it opened three years ago.
Karen Hilton, ward manager, said: “Our grateful thanks to all our…wider Ribblemere team family, (including) our fabulous colleagues, Jocelyn, Hannah and Annette from APP.”
Postpartum psychosis drug discovery study
In September, APP's Training and Research Coordinator, Sally, visited the Medicines Discovery Institute (MDI) at Cardiff University to participate in the launch of their new project looking to develop a novel treatment for postpartum psychosis.
This is a two-year, £500,000 early-stage drug discovery project that is funded by the Wellcome Trust and is based upon the hypothesis that postpartum psychosis might be caused by a drop in circulating hormones that occurs after birth. Hormones are known to affect brain function and mood and so the MDI team hopes to identify and develop a synthetic replacement that will therefore prevent the profound mood changes that occur in postpartum psychosis.
The project leader is Professor John Atack (pictured above) who says: “We are thrilled that the Wellcome Trust recognises the medical need of postpartum psychosis and has agreed to fund us in this otherwise neglected area of research. We are especially grateful that Sally and APP can provide a lived experience perspective, which the research team found incredibly moving and motivating on the day. Personally, I had little awareness of the severity of maternal mental health issues until I spoke with my colleague at Cardiff University, Professor Ian Jones, which then inspired me to try to make a difference. Sally’s contribution to our project launch was by far the highlight of the day. So, when the going gets tough, as it undoubtedly will, the lived experience will ensure we remain focussed on trying to deliver a novel treatment for this condition.”
Mum Poet Club zine
The Mum Poet Club’s latest zine has been published this month and is a special edition guest edited by APP ambassador Laura Dockrill.
"And How Is Mum" features beautiful, illustrated poems on the theme of identity in motherhood. Each poem has been personally selected by our ambassador, award-winning writer and author of “What Have I Done”, Laura Dockrill. Laura says:
“Guest editing this has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Why? Because not only is the standard exceptional; the writing is extraordinary, the courage is breath-taking – there is humour, there is real-talk and there is love by the bucketload- but truly because it was so hard to read poetry with so many tears in my eyes. I very quickly found myself sobbing and snotting over my marmite on toast, reading lines down the phone to my sister. These poems are a safe space. Reading this is a safe space that could open a conversation, a conversation that could even go on to save someone’s life.”
The zine has been made in collaboration with APP and all profits made from this issue will be donated to support our work. It features a beautiful gold foiled cover by Ellamae Statham (pictured above).
As part of its ‘On the Edge’ anthology, Channel 4 screened the postpartum psychosis drama ‘Cradled’ (pictured above) earlier this month. Many members of the APP network have praised the programme for being a moving and powerful portrayal of PP. APP has interviewed Cradled’s writer Nessah Muthy. You can read the full article on our website.
Please note both the programme and our interview contain references to suicide and intrusive thoughts about babies. Please take care when reading/viewing.
APP Assistant National Coordinator Naomi Gilbert supported World Menopause Day in October with a piece in The Flock.
Please share these pieces on social media and help us to amplify our messages.
Garden of Hope for Rosewood MBU
BBC's The One Show showed the story of how a 'Garden of Hope', created for this year's Chelsea Flower Show, has been given a permanent home at Rosewood Mother and Baby Unit in Kent (pictured above).
The film, broadcast on the programme on 22nd November, featured MBU staff and a former service user who talked about the difference the garden will make to the service and to the mums and babies who are on their road to recovery.
We are incredibly grateful for the continued support of our fundraisers. We would like to thank everyone who has hosted an event in aid of APP, as well as those who have donated; your support is greatly appreciated. We have had a fantastic response too for our #MilesForMumsAndBabies challenge. Thank you.
Alice Stroud, an APP volunteer (pictured above, left) is taking part in five triathlons over the next twelve months working towards the Olympic triathlon distance (a 1,500-metre swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run). Alice experienced psychosis twice during pregnancy in 2019 and into 2020 and was helped by APP’s peer support. She has already raised more than £1,400. You can visit and donate to Alice’s fundraising page here.
Rachel Lucas, her family and friends have formed a team of 11 to walk 1,400 miles for APP. Rachel, an APP volunteer, experienced PP two years ago and spent six weeks in Leeds MBU. She held a fundraiser with her family and friends called ‘Four million steps for APP’ during November last year and has also developed the ‘Blooming Mum to Be’ and ‘Brand New Mum’ boxes which she is selling via her website www.pourlamaman.co.uk, donating some of the profits to both APP and PANDAS Foundation. You can support her challenge here.
Virgin Money London Marathon. APP had six runners who took part in this year’s October events: Jason Sales and Andy Rolfe (pictured above, right) ran in the live event, whilst Sophie Raynor, Dave Orridge, Esther Land, and Karen Lacey signed up for the virtual run. Together, they have raised more than £4,900 for APP. You can still visit and donate to their fundraising pages.
Royal Parks Half Marathon. We had four amazing runners who took part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon on 10th October Sally Hogg, Nicola Ball, Jeni Dibley-Rouse and Anneka Harry. Our runners have raised more than £4,000 for APP. You can still visit their fundraising pages by following the links.
Brockington Mother and Baby Unit staff (pictured above, centre) climbed Snowdon in October to support APP’s work. The team also recently helped APP volunteer Gemma Vinter to plant 240 bulbs in the grounds of the MBU, to provide a calming and beautiful space which will help patients’ recovery. The Snowden climb has raised more than £1,300 for APP.
Amy Coutts-Britton took part in the Oswestry 10k in October. Amy is a peer support volunteer with APP and has attended events, meeting other mums like her who have experienced PP. Her run raised more than £450 for APP. You can visit and donate to her fundraising page here.
Steve Bushell ran the Yorkshire Marathon in October. Steve’s wife Jo experienced PP after the birth of their first child and spent time in an MBU where she received great care as part of her recovery. Steve raised more than £1,720 for APP and we would like to thank his employer M&G Prudential for matching funding £300. You can visit Steve’s fundraising page here.
Abi France ran the Liverpool Rock n Roll Marathon in October. Her sister experienced PP two and a half years ago, has recently had her second baby and the family have found the information and personal experiences on APP’s website very helpful. Abi raised more than £1,215 for APP. You can visit her fundraising page here.
Emily Saunders, a peer support volunteer with APP, walked and cycled more than 500 miles between 1st July and 14th November 2021. These dates are important to her as they are the dates she went into and then finally came out of Nottingham MBU in 2017 (having had two stays) when she had PP, severe PND and anxiety after the birth of her daughter. Emily chose the distance as it represents the almost 500 miles from the most northerly to the most southerly MBU. Emily has raised more than £506 for APP. You can donate to her challenge here.
The team from the new Perinatal Mental Health Service in Ayrshire and Arran challenged themselves to walk 1,400 miles throughout October. They work with mums who are affected by severe mental illness in the perinatal period, and wanted to take part in #MilesForMumsAndBabies to raise awareness of PP. They chose the distance as it represents the 1,400 mums who experience PP in the UK each year. The team have raised more than £1,250 for APP. You can donate to their challenge here.
Rachel Kerr walked 100 miles for her MilesForMumsAndBabies challenge. Rachel was hospitalised for three weeks in 2016 having developed PP after the birth of her daughter. Last year, she gave birth to her son and received support from APP. Rachel has raised more than £45 for APP.
Shirley Holmes, a health visitor, has walked the six different paths up Snowdon, a total of 48.5 miles, with her husband and sister joining her for some of the walks. Shirley decided to fundraise for APP after recently learning more about postpartum psychosis. She’s raised more than £472 for APP. You can donate to Shirley’s challenge here.
You can read more about the #MilesForMumsAndBabies - and our other fundraisers - here. You can still sign up to our Miles for Mums and Babies Fundraiser and set yourself, or your team a challenge to complete.
Facebook Fundraisers: Each month, we welcome new Facebook fundraisers, many of whom have supported APP and raised awareness of postpartum psychosis by holding a birthday fundraiser. It has been lovely to celebrate your special day with you.
If you have any fundraising ideas or would like to get involved, contact fundraising@app-network for more information. We would love to support you.
Women and Bipolar webinar: Pregnancy and Childbirth, Thursday 2nd December.
Bipolar UK event with Dr Clare Dolman and Professor Ian Jones looking at how pregnancy and childbirth can affect women with bipolar and how they can give themselves the best chance of staying well. Register here.
London Maternity and Midwifery Festival, Tuesday 18th January 2022.
The first in the Maternity and Midwifery Forum’s 2022 series of regional and national festivals. Free of charge to all practising maternity and midwifery professionals and student midwives. Book tickets here.
Perinatal Mental Health Services: Improving access and support, Wednesday 2nd February 2022.
Virtual conference focusing on improving perinatal mental health services as well as access and support during and beyond Covid-19. Book tickets here. Members of the APP network will receive a 20% discount with code: hcuk20app.
Action on Postpartum Psychosis is a Charity Registered in England and Wales (no. 1139925) and a Company Limited by Guarantee (no. 7466643). Registered address: Action on Postpartum Psychosis,International House, 12 Constance Street, London, E16 2DQ.
APP is a founder member of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance. You can find out more here.