Mums have opened up about their mental health problems in a bid to save the lives of new mothers and pregnant women at risk of suicide.
The charities Best Beginnings and Sands launched the above film, ‘My Mental Health Matters’, on Tuesday 15 November, with the support of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
The video aims to reassure mums-to-be and new mums that mental health problems can be treated and they can seek help without fear of recrimination.
“Many women feel that if they seek help, it may be a poor reflection on their ability to take care of their babies. This is simply untrue,” said Alison Baum, chief executive of Best Beginnings.
“There is a terrible pressure on women to be what is deemed as the ‘perfect mum’ and for some that pressure can be exhausting and isolating. We are really hoping to shift things.”
One of the mums who shared her experience in order to let other parents struggling with mental health problems know they’re not alone was 22-year-old Lettie Head, from Maidstone, Kent.
“I thought it was really normal after having a baby to get very low and then be on top of the world the next moment,” she said.
“You know, baby blues. But then I got more downhill – suicidal – and I knew it wasn’t normal. I get a rollercoaster of moods swings, insomnia and anxiety – lots of emotions in one. Now that I’m diagnosed and have medication I feel more calm.
“I’m supporting ‘Our Chance’ because I want more mums to talk about mental health and get good support quicker.”
Counselling and talking therapies can help and if you need to take medication, there are options that are safe if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
The ‘My Mental Health Matters’ video was released as part of the ‘Our Chance’ safer pregnancy campaign, which is funded by the Department of Health.
The charities cite the latest MBRRACE-UK confidential enquiry into perinatal mortality (published in December 2015), which showed that suicide was the cause of death for 25% of women who died in the first 12 months after childbirth.
“Overall, more than 100 women died by suicide between 2009 and 2013 and it was clearly evident that many needed, but did not receive, specialist perinatal mental health care,” the report stated.
Commenting on the ‘Our Chance’ campaign, Dr Trudi Seneviratne, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Perinatal Psychiatry Faculty, said:
“I am proud to work in partnership with Best Beginnings and SANDS to launch this campaign.
“We encourage everyone to get involved and watch the films so that women and their families get the right help as early as possible without fear, stigma and discrimination, to reduce suffering and ultimately maternal suicide.”
Watch the video above for advice on looking after your mental health or visit ourchance.org.uk.