As we approach Mother’s Day, Niamh is asking you to join with us to take the opportunity to show any mum or mum-to-be out there who may have experience of, or currently be experiencing perinatal mental health issues that their wellbeing matters, and we support them on their journey or recovery.
Of the 25 273 births in 2011 in Northern Ireland, 2527 women developed antenatal depression, 3790 women developed postnatal depression, 50 mothers developed puerperal psychosis and 50 were admitted as a result of relapsing. (source: Duggan, M and Hamilton, S. (2013) Regional Perinatal Mental Health, DHSSPS 1ST January: 2-3. Available at: http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/shona_hamilton_and_mary_duggan_presentation.pdf, accessed 13th June 2014).
Niamh is a member of the Northern Ireland Maternal Mental Health Alliance whose membership includes: professional bodies, clinicians, voluntary and community organisations, and women and their families who have been directly impacted.
Our charity knows only too well the significant impact that not having timely access to tailored mental health interventions can have on someone’s wellbeing and the process of recovery. Throughout the years, a number of mothers who have used Beacon’s services have required support to deal with their own perinatal mental health issues, not forgetting the partners, children and significant others who can also be impacted.
The stories and statistics we are sharing in the run up to Mother’s Day show that the impact of a woman experiencing a perinatal mental health issue can be profound. This includes the experience of our Ambassador for Maternal Mental Health, Lindsay Robinson and our staff member Emma.
Within our Beacon centres, staff are continually working to support expectant mothers with pre-existing mental health conditions to prepare for motherhood and mothers who have felt the strain on their mental wellbeing, often for many years after giving birth.
Although Beacon can offer support, there is real need within Northern Ireland to develop more specialist perinatal services. Early intervention is key in terms of preventing adverse outcomes for expectant mothers, along with improving knowledge of potential challenges that may arise and the sources of support that are available.
The front line health professionals that a woman encounters throughout her pregnancy play can also play a key role in this process of public education once they are equipped through proper training with the skills to do so.
Both the human and financial costs of not treating perinatal mental illnesses effectively are significant, but through the stories we are sharing in this campaign like those of Lindsay and Emma, we hope more than anything that the message gets out that it is time to remove the stigma surrounding this issue and help empower women to reach out for the help they need and deserve.
What both Lindsay and Emma’s experiences show, is that if you do reach out, things can start to get better and the journey of recovery can begin.
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