Today [Wednesday 24th February] Sport Relief will be encouraging mums and dads affected by maternal mental illness to come together and share their stories on Twitter @SportRelief with #MumTalk to help to reduce stigma around the issue.
By going to @SportRelief today, the nation will gain a unique insight into an issue that affects as many as 1 in 10 women yet is still a big taboo and not talked about openly. Many women feel completely alone and too embarrassed to share their true feelings, with 7 in 10 women affected hiding or downplaying their symptoms.
As mums and dads share their own experiences throughout the day, here Dr Alain Gregoire, Perinatal Psychiatrist and Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, which benefits from cash raised by Sport Relief, shares 10 things you never knew about maternal mental illness:
- More than 1 in 10 women develop a problem with their mental health during pregnancy or in the first year after having a baby. Most of them never tell anyone and suffer in silence.
- Many people have heard of postnatal depression, but all sorts of very distressing mental health problems can occur during pregnancy and postnatally, such as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), depression, panic, and even postpartum psychosis, which can cause terrifying thoughts and experiences.
- Most women don't tell anyone what they're going through because they worry about what others will think or do. They worry others will think they are weak or bad mothers or will take their baby away. These worries are not facts, but they do stop women getting the help and support they need.
- A common symptom of depression, severe anxiety and OCD, is having 'intrusive thoughts'. These thoughts, usually very distressing, keep coming into mind even though they are not true and not wanted. For example 'I might hurt my baby'. Women are often too frightened to tell anyone, but telling a professional means you can get help, and doesn't mean they will take your baby away.
- If a woman chooses to share distressing feelings and thoughts with you, be supportive and encourage her to get advice and help from her midwife, health visitor or GP.
- All these mental health problems can be treated with talking therapies, and sometimes also with medications. There are medications that can be taken in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- We shouldn't forget about Dads either. Many people don't realise that about 1 in 20 dads develop depression during this time. Many dads also struggle to help their partners who are experiencing mental health problems and they need the support of friends and family.
- In fact all parents of young children need the support of friends and family: being a good parent is the most difficult thing, and the most important thing, any of us ever does. But if your mental health is not so good, you need even more support and help.
- It's normal to get the 'baby blues': new mums - and new dads too - often feel muddled in their emotions and thoughts for a few days, soon after the baby is born. If this doesn't go away after 2 or 3 days or is causing concern the best thing to do is to be open and get advice and help.
- To help keep yourself mentally well, and help others to, always remember: it's good for our minds to stay mentally, physically and socially active - do things and be with other people. Walking round the park with a buggy is an antidepressant, even more so with other people. Sports relief!
Today [Wednesday 24th February] Sport Relief is sharing stories of men and women affected by maternal mental health problems in the UK, join the conversation @sportrelief with #MumTalk
Sport Relief is back from 18th-20th March. Find out how you can help raise life-changing cash at sportrelief.com
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Get ready to walk, run, swim or cycle yourself proud, because the Sainsbury's Sport Relief Games are back, from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th March 2016.
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Tagged in Mental Health