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I have chosen to support the charity " APP " - Action on Postpartum Psychosis because I wish to challenge , as it does, the stigma and the lack of information which has traditionally surrounded the area of perinatal mental illness. APP is a marvellous registered charity which has done so much since its beginnings as a scientific research panel.
Postpartum Psychosis occurs in approximately 1- 2 in every 1000 births. It generally strikes out of the blue at a time when families are full of hopeful expectation. The UK will see approx.1400 cases per year. An episode of PP presents our services with a psychiatric emergency. It typically begins suddenly in the days or weeks following childbirth, thereafter women will quickly lose touch with reality . PP can develop into full blown psychosis within hours or days . The majority of women are unable to seek help for themselves - others must obtain help for them. It follows that we should all be compassionately aware of this illness, since it can assault women of all backgrounds and occupations. Stories in the press are often ill-informed and alarmist which only add to women's feelings of isolation and their families' distress.
According to "The Confidential Enquiries into Maternal & Child Health", suicide was the leading cause of maternal death - up to the last enquiry. Dedicated Mother & Baby units are very scarce in the UK.. Women, all too often, are admitted to general psychiatric units without their babies . The ensuing, undeserved feelings of loss, guilt and isolation are truly tragic. APP is campaigning for better services, is facilitating research into causes, and via the PPtalk network is offering women and their families a level of support and engagement which is second to none. I should like to support APP because it would be hard to find a more hardworking group which includes many brave expert patients who know only too well the landscape of perinatal mental illness. Yet, what these women also know is that with your donation they can continue to demonstrate optimism - PP is eminently treatable; women can and do recover.
APP has set up a UK wide Peer Support network and has organised conferences and workshops so that women can feel less isolated. It has written expert literature for women, partners and all those involved in perinatal mental health services. It has brought together in one room more women who have experienced PP than anywhere else in the world. The comfort that this can bring - after years of isolation for many - is hard to overstate. I hope that mothers, partners and families everywhere will sponsor me in order to enable APP to address the ignorance, stigma and lack of provision which it has already done so much to address.