Recently I had the privilege of being invited to attend the NCT’s #HiddenHalf workshop. The workshop was aimed at helping NCT volunteers and mental health campaigners to understand the #HiddenHalf campaign and kick start it. And it definitely achieved that!
The #HiddenHalf campaign is about campaigning for better funding and guidance at the 6 week check to support mums struggling with their mental health. Why is this needed? Well recently, a study by Dr Louise Howard of King’s College London showed that 1 in 4 mums struggle with their mental health during pregnancy, and we now understand also that 1 in 3 mums struggle postnatally, the most talked about issue being post-natal depression.
Now, if you campaign for maternal mental health like I do, this doesn’t come as a surprise. I have so many mums contacting me each week sharing their story, asking for help, or encouraging me in my work to help fight the stigma and raise awareness. For mums that don’t struggle, this might come as a bit of a shock. And this is because mums often don’t open up about their struggling until either they are better again, or until another mum speaks up and then they feel able to.
This is part of what the campaign is about. Getting mums to speak up – share their story – and empower other mums to do the same. And it relies on the mums who have survived postnatal depression to speak out first. I’ve now shared my story on the BBC and in the Huffington Post etc. But we need more mums to speak out too and show that it’s ok not to feel ok.
You can of course speak out in whatever way feels comfortable to you. It might not be on national media! But through your local NCT mums group, in a Facebook group, on Twitter, or over coffee with a friend. Whatever feels ok to you – give it a go!
If you feel comfortable to, as part of the campaign many of us will be uploading 30 second videos of ourselves explaining why we have joined the NCT #HiddenHalf campaign. If you need some inspiration mine is here:
Fundamentally, the campaign aims to encourage everyone (not just mums!) to contact their local MP, to let them know that maternal mental health needs to be higher on the agenda and to share their story if relevant and appropriate. NCT has been essential in making huge leaps in maternal health care. From getting dads into labour wards, to breastfeeding with confidence in public, to being able to eat and drink during labour. Things that we (mostly!) take for granted now.
My contact with NCT prior to the workshop was as a mum-to-be on the course, and then on a weaning course as a new mum. I had no idea that they were so instrumental in pushing for great progress and enabling us as mums to experience birth in the way we do today. So, having struggled with mental health pre- and postnatally, I am super excited to be supporting this campaign. If my anxiety had been picked up earlier I may not have struggled with PTSD and PND. And even if I had, I would have been able to identify it sooner myself, and get the relevant help. My hope is that in the future, women won’t need to push for the relevant help - it will be a normal, everyday occurrence.
So, if you’d like to see change in how mental health is picked up and dealt with, particularly in the 6 week check, please:
Mum of one, Emily founded MummyLinks.com - the safe place to meet mums for local playdates - after suffering loneliness and Post Natal Depression. She also works tirelessly to reduce the stigma and raise awareness of maternal mental health and launched the #ShoutieSelfie campaign in May 2017 which was a great success.
MummyLinks is a free app helping mums beat loneliness through local playdates.
Being a mum is tough, so building a strong, local community is key.
Create or join playdates with local mums, even at short notice. Sign up for free today!
We take safety very seriously. MummyLinks is invite only. You can find out more here.