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Can we please talk about post-natal depression?

Floor by Sonja Smith

Here at Mathair we aim to provide a safe space for woman to talk and discuss various emotive topics. This week’s artist Sonja Smith talks about her experience with post-natal depression.

I first bonded with Sonja over our mutual love of feminist literature (The Yellow Wallpaper, 10 Days in a Mad House) from there we engaged in many conversations regarding post-natal depression and how there was such a stigma attached to it.

Sonja’s Fine Art project ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ particularly resonated with myself and my own dark times after the birth of my daughter. Words do indeed have power so when I read Sonja’s statement for her Fine Art piece I felt a sense of understanding. Reading phrases such as ‘In my moments of grey they could see colour’ and ‘they achieved contentment I could not’, struck a chord within me. You see I had been there, I had felt it too and I am angry we are not doing more to help new mums. We MUST start the conversation. We Must not tolerate this.

Home by Sonja Smith

The research, from NSPCC Northern Ireland, the Royal College of Midwives and the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors, said the issue is currently receiving insufficient attention from policy-makers. Its highlighted gaps both in the identification of mental health illnesses and the response provided to women once they have disclosed problems or been detected in primary care.

The report calls for:

· A training standard on perinatal mental illness for all professionals in Northern Ireland who care for women during this period;

· A review of ways of working within midwifery and health visiting services to improve continuity of care and the time that these professionals have to spend with women;

· Clarification on the use of screening tools, and review of training needs around ‘how’ midwives and health professionals work with women, including advanced practice skills around disclosure;

· Greater alignment of the role of professionals to respond to perinatal mental health needs, and also support the parent-infant relationship and infant’s mental health; and

· Development of specialist services for women including a mother and baby unit for women who need close care and supervision.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which has not committed to investment of funds in perinatal mental health, despite major funding having been pledged via the Barnett formula.

Words by Cheryl Gault

Image by Sonja Smith

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