There was on thing I noticed when I was waiting in my local ante natal clinic after a scan. There was no posters or information leaflets about maternal mental health, which is why I am now on a mission to change this. But, its not to say that there isn’t support available out there. Its, just about finding it and accessing it. And also having the courage to speak up and ask for the support too.
Charities who offer help & support
Online and peer support groups
We are so lucky to have the NHS and yes I know in the last five years or so we have seen HUGE budget cuts in all areas. Unfortunately mental health is one of the worse hit areas as it was already one of the lowest funded to begin with. However, with that said they promise (I know we won’t hold our breath) that by 2020/2021 there will be an increased access to services available. But until then what are your options?
Well one of the main things most don’t realise is that as much as midwives are there to look after us physically before, during and immediately after labor. They are also able to offer us support mentally. Most areas even have midwifes specifically dedicated to help mums to be who are suffering with mental illnesses already, or previously or suddenly feel like it is something affecting them. In my local area they are known as the enhanced midwifery team. I was referred to them at my first midwife appointment due to ongoing mental illnesses however, this is my 4th pregnancy now and the first time I was offered them from the off. But, it clearly shows progress right?! So, if you are pregnant then the midwife is your first port of call.
But, they can’t help you if they don’t know you need help! This part is down to you. I mean come on the lady looks at private parts most of her life I doubt she will be easily shocked, offended etc or bothered that your talking about how you feel. In fact i’m sure it will be a welcome distraction for her. Much better than testing yet another pee sample anyway don’t you think?
Then there is also the traditional GP. I know it can be hard as these days most of us don’t have a relationship with our GP anymore, let alone see the same one consistently. But, you have to get tough and ask yourself what the outcomes will be if you don’t suck it up, grow some lady balls and speak out! Whats the alternative, continuing to suffer alone and getting worse? Again, just like midwifes, I am sure the fact the GP won’t need to examine or look at any bodily fluids or body parts falling off will be a welcome distraction.
If you are finding it impossible, you can always write a note. This is something I have done many times. One time I just couldn’t get my words out I had tried before. I sat in the waiting room and could feel a panic attack building up. As I had to walk across the busy waiting area to get to the Dr’s room I had lost all control. I entered his room in full blown panic attack mode unable to breathe let alone speak. So, I simply handed him my note which was now all screwed up and crumbled. It literally read ‘I am struggling with my mind and need help’.
Now, i’m not saying you won’t be added to ridiculously long waiting lists etc. But its an option of support. They will also probably offer you medication and this a decision that you can make, research it properly ask the GP questions and be sure to read the information leaflets. Pay particular attention to the side effects of medications when making your decision and remember no decision is right or wrong. We are all different and we all react different to medications too, so what worked for Sandra down the road won’t necessarily work for you and visa versa.
Charities offering support
One of the main charities in maternal mental health is; the Maternal Mental Health Alliance which is an independent charity and coalition of UK organisations with a vision to see all women across the UK get consistent, accessible and quality care and support for their mental health during pregnancy and in the year after giving birth. You can access their website here https://maternalmentalhealthalliance.org/
They are responsible for setting up the Maternal Mental Health Awareness campaign week, that this blog is created for! Its the 3rd annual campaign and I am very much supporting it and helping to spread awareness too. There website has lots of support links and resources available.
Another great charity is PANDAS Foundation which gives support to people coping with Pre and Postnatal Mental Illnesses, as well as their families, friends and carers. http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/
Online & peer support
Then there are people like me! I offer online support in various forms. I am mental health practioner and I help women with their mental health. I specailise in helping women learn that they can be in control of their moods and emotions. I also speak from experience. I haven’t just read the academic books on mental health. I have lived and breathed it and still do to this day. I’ve had postnatal depression with 3 of my babies including my youngest one. I also had the addition of perinatal OCD with my youngest baby too. This was on top of my usual mental illnesses also; borderline (emoationally unstable) personality disorder, depression and anxiety. So, I am coming to you not only from a professional level, but also personally from someone who is living through it myself and is in control of my moods and emotions.
My support group is just what it says on the tin, a safe place full of your peers. We are a small but tight nit community of ladies all coming together to become stronger than our minds. We deal with maternal mental health and all other areas of mental health. Providing motivation, coping techniques and a safe place to talk and open up. You can access the group by clicking below:
As with all my blogs for maternal mental health awareness, I urge you please to share this using the options below. You never know who, on your social media will benefit from the information above. Even if it just helps another mum / mum to be to realise she is not alone its worth it right? So, do your bit and click share below.