RCGP support Sport Relief's day of action on maternal mental health

Publication date: 24 February 2016

To coincide with Sport Relief’s day of action to raise awareness of maternal mental illness in the UK, the Royal College of GPs will be hosting a Twitter discussion for GPs and other healthcare professionals this evening (Wednesday 24 February) from 8-9pm.

Perinatal mental health is a clinical priority for the RCGP - it is also highlighted as an essential competency in the training curriculum and is tested in the exams that GP trainees must pass to enter independent practice in the UK.
To take part in the discussion use #MumTalk and tag @rcgp. Also follow @SportRelief for further activity throughout the day.
Up to two in every 10 women are affected by perinatal mental health problems during pregnancy and the first year of their baby’s life - but many do not seek medical help or deal with it alone.
If not identified or left untreated in the first two years of a baby’s life - considered to be the time when the building blocks of their long-term social and emotional development are laid down - this has the potential to seriously impact on the child’s subsequent development.
In extreme cases, perinatal mental health issues can lead to maternal suicide and the consequences are devastating for entire generations of families.
This discussion will aim to raise awareness of the support and resources – many developed by or in collaboration with the RCGP – for GPs and healthcare professionals to deliver care to patients with perinatal mental health problems, and their families. It will also provide an opportunity for healthcare professionals to share knowledge and ideas, as well as discussing  issues around the provision of perinatal mental health care.
This #MumTalk discussion will take place between 8-9pm on Twitter, following a day of social media activity by Sports Relief, including an earlier discussion between 11am-1pm and the launch of a number of short films.
It will be led by Dr Carrie Ladd, a practising GP and RCGP Clinical Support Fellow for Perinatal Mental Health, and Dr Stephanie DeGiorgio, a GP who has had postnatal depression and who will share her experience as both doctor and patient. Other topics for discussion will include:

  • how perinatal mental health extends beyond postnatal depression;
  • what primary care professionals can do to help eliminate stigma in society;
  • how perinatal mental health can affect dads and other members of the family;
  • and what treatment options are available.

Dr Carrie Ladd, Clinical Support Fellow for Perinatal Mental Health at the RCGP, said: “While our attitudes to mental health issues seem to be improving as a society, a terrible stigma still surrounds mothers with mental health problems, not least from the women themselves who think they are being judged as 'bad' mothers or are frightened that their child will be taken away if they open up about how they are feeling.
"It is vital that women are taken seriously and not told that what they are feeling is 'normal'.
“GPs are under immense workload pressures at the moment – and the standard ten minute consultation can often be too short for us to take into account all the physical and mental health factors necessary to ensure holistic wellbeing.
"It’s so important that as a society we are more open about perinatal mental health, and how it can affect the whole family. We hope that this event will encourage this, and also inform GPs and other healthcare professionals of the resources out there that can support them to deliver the best possible care to patients with perinatal mental health problems.”
Dr Stephanie DeGiorgio, a GP in Walmer, Kent, said: "Mothers suffering with postnatal depression find it very hard to approach their GP. When I had it the first time, I was worried I was being silly and that everyone found motherhood as hard as I did. I needed an understanding response when I finally disclosed how I felt. Even the smallest dismissive comment will put a mother off from opening up. It took me a long time.
“Having a GP who is able to ask the right questions to help a mother explain how she is feeling and to suggest treatments that will help makes all the difference to a nervous mother who is worried that her children might be taken away or who hasn't been able to ask for help anywhere else.
“I hope that this event will help make GPs, other healthcare professionals, and patients feel more confident about discussing mental health during check-ups and for GPs to recognise perinatal mental health problems in mothers who are often trying hard to cover up their feelings.”



Further Information

RCGP resources to support GPs and healthcare professionals deliver perinatal mental health care, and useful links to other resources, can be found here.

More information about Sport Relief’s day of action can be found here.

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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