1-in-5 new mums and 1-in-10 new dads will suffer from mental health struggles during pregnancy and the first year of their baby’s life. As common as illnesses such as depression and anxiety can be, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding them, and many parents worry that others will judge them, or think they are bad parents, if they admit to these kinds of problems.
We want to end this stigma.
No parent is perfect, and everyone has their highs and lows. Struggling with mental ill-health does not mean you are a bad parent (far from it!), and there is plenty of support out there to help you not only recover, but prevent any negative impact on your little ones. Asking for help when you need it is absolutely always a good thing, and never something to be ashamed of.
So, here are a few places you can turn to when looking for help and information.
Looking for Information
- Mind - Parenting with a Mental Health Problem
This incredible resource from Mind covers many aspects of parenting whilst struggling with mental health, including common worries, tips for maintaining a routine and creating a support network, communicating with your little one and keeping track of their own mental wellbeing, and links to support that both of you can access.
- Tommy’s - Mental Health
Tommy’s is a pregnancy charity, devoted to funding research and providing information about health in pregnancy. On this page, you can find information on a range of mental health issues affecting pregnant women, including tokophobia and bipolar disorder.
- Anna Freud - Child in Mind
This podcast series from Anna Freud (the National Centre for Children and Families) is designed to help parents understand and manage mental health problems in their family. It covers everything from anxiety and ADHD to therapy and medication.
- Information on Mother and Baby Units (MBUs)
In some rarer cases (around 2 to 4 per 1000 new mothers), women may need admission to hospital for their mental health illness, either during pregnancy or in the first year of their baby’s life.
In these cases, the mother and baby will go into an MBU, a cosy ward specially designed to help mum recover and bond with her little one. Have a read of this page from the Royal College of Psychiatrists to learn more about what they are, how you can be admitted, and what treatment they provide.
- Maternal OCD
Maternal OCD is a charity devoted to raising awareness of- and providing support for those with- perinatal OCD: a severe but treatable anxiety disorder that can arise in new parents.
- Action on Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum Psychosis affects over 1400 women each year in the UK. It is characterised by hallucinations, delusions, mania, depression and/or confusion.
This website provides information on PP, as well as running an award-winning peer-support service.
Looking for Help
- IAPT and CAMHS
These are two services offered by the NHS. IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) is the easiest way to access free therapy and mental health support in the UK. Simply fill in the form, and they will either contact you to work out the best course of treatment, or refer you on if they feel you need a little extra help. It really is that easy!
CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) provides support for children and families struggling with mental health. You can use their website to find your nearest clinic, where they will have information on self-referrals.
Home-Start is a network of experts and trained volunteers who specialise in supporting families through the early years. Here you can find a little information on the help they provide for families struggling with mental ill-health, and find your local Home-Start to connect with a volunteer.
- Anna Freud
The Anna Freud Centre offers a number of specialist treatments and assessments for families, parents and children. The service is free for new parents in the Borough of Camden, but they do also take referrals from further afield.
- NCT Parents in Mind
For mothers in Newham, the NCT offers support in the form of trained volunteers with lived experience of maternal mental health difficulties; as they put it, ‘talk and support, mum to mum’. Find out more about the service and how to access it via the link above.
- If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact either:
- The NHS or
- The Samaritans
You can also contact your GP and request an emergency appointment.
If you are struggling with your mental health, I want to let you know that it will get better. No matter how dark things may seem, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and you should always ask for help if you feel you need it.
Look after yourself :)