What Silence?

Postnatal Illness affects between 70,000 and 100,000 women and their babies in the UK every year. It is rightly called 'the silent epidemic'

Association for Postnatal Illness

Despite the significant prevalence of Postnatal Illness, few know of its existence and even fewer are aware of its threat to women's lives, or of the existence of specialist perinatal services, including Mother and Baby units.

These are not regular topics of conversation in our society, even for women who have experienced Postnatal Illness or for their friends or relatives; they are also largely absent from general pregnancy literature and services.

Who is silent?

  • Many new parents do not speak out when depression starts to hit, perhaps feeling ashamed and not realising that what they experience is a recognised mental illness, is nobody's "fault" and that support can be provided by medical professionals
  • Health professionals, including GPs, health visitors, midwives and mental health experts do not always communicate (or even know of) clear pathways of support for affected women and their families - being more likely than not to refer women to general psychiatric services rather than to specialised perinatal mental health services. In such situations, the more information a woman and her family have themselves about appropriate treatments, the more likely a woman can access the services she urgently needs, educating her health professionals in the process
  • Antenatal classes tend to focus primarily on physical risks of pregnancy and childbirth, missing out what women and their families need to know should postnatal mental illness arise

Whilst some of the silence around PNI may be well intended, with health professionals and even relatives and friends not wanting to "frighten" would-be parents, women's lives tragically continue to be unnecessarily put at risk.

quotes

Postnatal illness is known as 'the silent epidemic'

Postnatal Illness Support Trustee

The battle for the individual rights of women is one of long standing and none of us should countenance anything which undermines it.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Supporting women, their infants and families from the earliest time in their lives will reap rewards in longer term outcome for families affected by mental illness.

Dr Liz McDonald, Consultant Psychiatrist, East London NHS Foundation Trust

Silence about the whirlwind of change inherent to new motherhood seems unnecessarily cautious. Research shows that people cope better with stressful events when they feel adequately informed and supported.

Kate Figes, Countering the Myth

Resources

Break The Silence on PNI

Break The Silence PNI is a non profit organisation - all rights reserved