Taking care of maternal mental health during Covid-19

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29 June 2020

By Maria Bavetta

My personal experience

Living with a mental health problem can be super hard; I know as I have experienced mental health problems, specifically in the postnatal period. Once I recovered, I was lucky enough to join the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) both as a co-founder of Maternal OCD and, after a while, as an employee.

I wish every woman could enjoy motherhood without the presence of a mental illness and the impact it may cause. And when I write ‘enjoy motherhood’ I do not mean the picture-perfect kind, I mean the real kind! We need to recognise that sometimes maternal mental health problems can get in the way of this, and sometimes pregnancy and motherhood can impact mind and mood.

Before I go on to the ‘formal stuff’ I wanted to share an observation I noticed of myself many years ago and still applies now. Doing anything (from walking, tidying, meeting friends, working) with the absence of anxiety and OCD - my mind’s choice of illness - is like walking on air. I would like every mum to experience that… well, at least in-between wiping someone’s nose, middle-of-the-night feeds and nappy changes!

Campaigning for change

This is why I campaign for better services. I want to make sure that every mum can access the specialist care and attention she needs, and deserves, to thrive during pregnancy and motherhood. However, with the arrival of Covid-19, this rewarding but challenging work just got a little more complicated.

So, as promised, the ‘formal stuff’ is below. Please know this comes from a dedicated team and Alliance that cares passionately about the mental health of pregnant women, mothers and (of course) their families.

As a member of the MMHA, Centre for Mental Health is part of a coalition of 98 UK organisations, working across the UK to improve perinatal mental health care. The MMHA’s Everyone’s Business campaign calls for all women throughout the UK who experience a perinatal mental illness to receive the specialist support they and their families need, wherever and whenever they need it.

MMHA members, staff and leading experts have collaborated on guidance to help new and expectant mums protect their mental wellbeing.

What is the MMHA doing to help right now?

To ensure women and families in the UK receive the care they need and deserve during the pandemic, MMHA are pleading with local and national decision-makers to PLAN with the mental as well as physical health needs of women and their families in mind, during and beyond Covid-19.

  • Protect the perinatal mental health workforce and plans throughout and beyond this crisis
  • Link-up the mental health care and support available for women and families during this time
  • Acknowledge the impact of the crisis on perinatal mental health and its potential long-term consequences
  • Navigate the crisis while prioritising the perinatal mental health needs of women and families, and proactively encouraging them to seek help early.

What support is available during this time?

Health professionals and voluntary support organisations are still available.

If you are worried that you or a loved one is unwell with a maternal mental health problem during COVID, please do ask for help and support. Talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP. They can refer you to local support services and ensure you get the support you need.

See additional resources from MMHA members offering support and guidance for professionals working with women and families in the perinatal period, for new and expectant parents, and to help us all look after our mental health and wellbeing at this time.

How you can help

Help MMHA spread the word to ensure maternal mental health remains a top priority now and as we move out of lockdown:

  1. Share our ‘Plea to PLAN
  2. Follow and retweet campaign calls from @MMHAlliance
  3. Share the expert Maternal Mental Wellbeing Guidance to let women and families know that help is there for them.

For further information about getting involved with the MMHA, or any other enquiries, email info@maternalmentalhealthalliance.org

Let’s get better mental health support for all

The coronavirus pandemic is a physical health emergency on a global scale, such as we have never seen in our lifetimes. But it is also a mental health emergency.

We are taking action to help those at the frontline of this mental health crisis.

Now more than ever, your support is so valuable. Please take this journey with us - donate today.

You can help by donating as little as £1

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