Supporting children with safe media coverage

When disasters or traumatic events occur they’re often given constant media coverage. It can seem like every time you turn on the TV, radio or go online there is more news about the event, who has been hurt and what is happening in the immediate aftermath.
 
Media coverage during times of disaster or traumatic events is important: it can provide those who are affected with news and information about where to go, how to get help and when it’s safe to return to their homes. However, many people, including children and families, can become absorbed by the constant news stream about the event and sometimes they can watch or listen for hours.
 
Impact of too much media exposure Adults need to be mindful of how much exposure their children have to coverage of disasters or traumatic events on TV, radio or the internet. The media often focus on the most frightening aspects of an event and this coverage can contain graphic, scary and disturbing images. Seeing this type of media coverage can cause distress or worry for children.
 
Children will also often discuss what they have seen in the media with each other. As a result, even though your children may not watch coverage constantly at home, they are still exposed to it through their friends and chatter on social media.
 
Media coverage can have an impact on children in the following ways:
• they can feel that they are unsafe and that something bad may happen to them or their family
 
• they can be led to think this event is happening constantly, rather than one event being replayed
 
• they can spend a great deal of time thinking about the event, which can affect their sleep and time at school
 
• they may be anxious that the same sort of event may happen to them or their family.
 
The more media coverage children see, the more likely they are to become afraid or upset.
 
How to help your child
It’s important that parents, carers and other family members help children to cope with the media coverage that they may see of a disaster or traumatic event. Some recommended ways to manage this include:
 
• try to be there with your children when they are watching coverage of the event. This way you can talk to them about their fears and answer any questions they may have
 
• speak to children about the event in language they will understand, and set limits on the amount of time that they are able to watch TV or internet coverage of the event
 
• explain to your children why you are doing this, that you don’t want them to worry unnecessarily, and that adults are managing things
 
• provide alternative activities for your children to take them away from the media coverage, such as watching a different TV show or playing a game
 
• give your children information to help them to understand what’s happened, why it’s happened, how likely this is to happen to you and your family
 
• remind your children that while what’s happening in the traumatic event is upsetting, there are also lots of good things happening in the world, though these don’t always receive the same level of attention
 
• reassure your children that they’re safe and that you’re there to answer their questions
 
• provide support and comfort to them if they’re upset or feeling unsafe.
 
Talking to your children and continuing to follow the normal routines and rhythms of your daily life are important ways to help them feel safe and secure. Keep in mind that if your children begin to show signs of excessive worry or distress at the media coverage they have seen, you may need to speak to your GP or another health professional.
 
This incredibly helpful and useful resource was written by Professor Beverley Raphael and Amanda Harris, with updates in June 2018 by Nicola Palfrey. Downloadable leaflet containing all information can be found here: https://d2p3kdr0nr4o3z.cloudfront.net/content/uploads/2018/09/11091906/Disasters-the-Media-and-Children.pdf

In the News: Scottish mental health legislation to be reviewed

Mental health care in Scotland is currently underpinned by laws which date back to 2003, and MSPs have faced calls for an update.
The government said a special review group would examine the latest developments in care and treatment. The “ambitious” move was welcomed by the Mental Welfare Commission and opposition parties at Holyrood.
 
It follows on from work already under way to review incapacity law and practice and a review of learning disability and autism.
The chairperson of the review group is to be announced in due course, while the study itself is expected to take roughly a year.
 
The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 was designed to strengthen the rights and protections of people with mental illnesses, learning disabilities and personality disorders, placing duties on local councils to provide care and support services for them.
A petition had been lodged at Holyrood urging ministers to “conduct a wide review” of legislation, in light of developments both in care and treatment and international human rights law.
 
Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey told MSPs that “the time is right” to review the law, to make sure that rules “fully reflect our ambitions and the needs of those our laws are intended to support”.
She said: “The Scottish government is absolutely committed to bringing change to people’s lives and ensuring that mental health is given parity with physical health.
 
“As part of the review we want to gather views from as wide a range of people as possible and I am determined to ensure that the views of service users, those with lived experience and those that care for them are front and centre so they can help shape the future direction of our legislation.”
 
Opposition parties welcomed Ms Haughey’s Holyrood statement, saying the 2003 Act had been “groundbreaking” at the time but was now in need of an update.
 
Colin McKay, chief executive of the Mental Welfare Commission, said the group would support the “ambitious project” in any way it could.
He said: “Working together with professionals and with people with lived experience, Scotland has the opportunity to create new legislation that can bring real improvement to the care and treatment of some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
 
Link to original blog: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-47629868

Why teacher mental health matters and how to improve it

Research has revealed that over a third of education professionals are expected to leave their job by 2020, highlighting the importance of teacher mental health and the need to address this crisis

According to a recent study, more than half of Britain’s teachers have a diagnosed mental health problem, with 76% of education professionals experiencing behavioural, psychological or physical symptoms due to their work in the last year.

Teacher mental health issues are important because they not only have a detrimental influence on teachers themselves but also directly affect classroom outcomes. One study into this showed that 77% of teachers felt poor mental health was having a damaging effect on pupil mental health, and 85% said that it adversely affected the quality of lesson planning.

In order to tackle the crisis head-on, school leaders need to build open and supportive wellbeing cultures. With a recent study showing that almost one-third of UK employees claim that they do not feel comfortable talking to their manager about mental health problems for fear of being judged, this is clearly a pressing issue. By adopting ‘open-door’ policies, and encouraging staff to share their issues, school leaders can ensure that problems can be appropriately addressed. A mentoring or buddy system could also be implemented– with this being especially useful for new members of staff, a high-risk group for mental health problems. Others initiative such as wellbeing surveys, training staff as mental health first aiders, and a provision of personal mental health guidance during teacher training are also all ways to achieve this.

CPD

Offering extra training and development to staff is often recommended as a method to boost retention, with studies showing higher levels of effective training have been proven to reduce the desire to move schools. One paper indicated that improving professional development by just one standard deviation shows a 63% reduction in the chance that a teacher will move to another school. With the evidence showing that training and development opportunities make teachers more likely to stay at a school, therefore suggesting that they feel content and settled, school leaders should actively encourage staff to regularly participate in CPD.

Workload

Workload is the most cited cause of mental health problems and the main reason for teachers leaving. Therefore, schools that offer arrangements such as job-sharing will find it far easier to retain staff and alleviate some of the problems around this. While the DfE has been working to develop strategies to help schools manage workload, there are still some methods leaders can implement right now. For instance, setting limits on after-school meetings and ensuring that only relevant staff are present, making sure employees take break and lunch times, and not setting expectations for immediate email responses, or even restricting the hours when emails can be sent, will all go some way towards helping.

Mindfulness and CBT

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, is a therapy that teaches individuals to observe the way their behaviour and thoughts affect their mood, and then build new patterns to avoid letting these thoughts have negative effects. Second, only to medication, CBT has been identified as an extremely effective treatment for mental health problems, especially anxiety and depression. Exercises such as meditation are also proven to improve mental health. By training people to bring more awareness to thoughts and feelings, they can be better managed and not become overwhelming.

One study found that mindfulness techniques significantly reduced the stress of participants when practised over three months. Another study revealed that meditation can reduce brain tissue associated with anxiety and worrying. By offering these options, along with other activities such as yoga, and physical exercise classes’, schools would be able to provide easy to implement, powerful methods of improving mental health.

Small things can make a change

There are many different approaches that school leaders can take in order to alleviate the mental health crisis, and there really is no ‘Holy Grail.’ People will all react differently to certain methods, making the best approach to build open and supportive cultures which allow help to start with the individual and work out what suits them best. However, this does not mean that schools shouldn’t try as many things as possible, and there are certain methods which are both very beneficial for mental health, and easy to put into action. By making small positive adjustments, over the long term, meaningful change can occur for teachers, students, and school leaders.

Original link: https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/teacher-mental-health-matters/60935/

 

Me, my school and my mental health

Guest blogger for YoungMinds Becky talks about how exam pressure affected her mental health, and the steps she took to make school life easier.

School: seen as a place for learning, maturing, making friends and growing. But for someone with depression and anxiety, school can be far from these things. For a lot of us (often more than you initially realise), school can be the most mentally challenging time of our lives. Years 10, 11 and year one of college felt almost impossible for me.

Through my school years, I had been put in top sets and given extra work. I was considered a ‘high achiever’ which sounds great… right? But this meant that there was so much pressure for me to do well in all my exams and keep improving, it really was bitter sweet. When I was approaching GCSE’s, the expectation that I would go to university began. Uni is not for everyone and much to my teacher’s dismay, it has never been for me! I was interested in going into work after college as I learn better in a hands-on environment – and that’s okay; everyone learns in their own unique way. Constant pushing from school to be a ‘star’ student was only making me unhappy, as the goals they were setting me felt completely unreasonable and unachievable to me.

Unfortunately, at the end of year 9 and as I went into year 10, my low mood began to escalate which led me to start seeing the school therapist. My school were eager to help which was positive. However, a big problem I found with school counselling was that I had to leave lessons to attend. This not only set me behind with work – causing me more stress in order to catch up – but it also would provoke questions. My peers would notice when I left mid-lesson and ask ‘Where are you going?’ This was difficult as I felt I couldn’t talk to many people about the way I was feeling; I felt like I was constantly having to hide this part of me from them.

As the year group were now knuckling down with preparing for GCSEs, it was becoming more and more difficult to stay focused, motivated and on-track. My mind was always elsewhere and exams were creeping up on me. Mock exam after mock exam and one revision guide to the next – it was full on! I felt like teachers didn’t understand how much the pressure of school can affect not only our mental health but also the quality of work we produce. Often, my fatigue and sadness would completely inhibit my ability to concentrate, only making me more anxious. It felt like a vicious circle!

My mum and I went into the school to discuss how best to help me.

I had a separate room to do my exams in. This meant the anxieties about walking into the exam hall with 200 students were reduced significantly, putting my mind at ease.

After finding the school counselling was not effective, I managed to see a CAMHS therapist outside of school and she helped me with strategies to stay calm. “Deep breaths Becky,” I would think to myself as I got nervous.

I learnt to tackle revision in manageable chunks and treat myself to rewards when I completed a section. Revision is tiring as it is, without battling mental health, so celebrate even the smallest of victories because you deserve the credit!

To anyone else who is struggling with schoolwork: remember exams are important, but your mental health comes first.

Original blog: https://youngminds.org.uk/blog/me-my-school-and-my-mental-health/?fbclid=IwAR099Hs4QnFu1RACBX_CK9P95Sn9-PoX3_qj1448_o1Lt5MqUYDPY185HTk

Comic Relief 2019

Comic Relief started as a charity in 1985 with a goal to raise as much money as possible for lives in Africa and the UK after the success of Live Aid that same year. Comic Relief came up with the idea of raising money through comedy which goes with their current message of “Do Something Funny For Money”.

Comic Relief officially started on Christmas Day 1985 and has been running successfully for 34 years.

Everyone at Harmless would like to say a BIG thank you to Comic Relief. By giving money on Red Nose Day you are showing your support to projects across the world- projects like ours. Harmless are supported by Comic Relief to help young people who self harm; they help us to save lives.

Harmless have had a long and successful relationship with Comic Relief; starting in 2012, we continue to work closely with the wonderful organisation today. In 2018, they gave us £150k to provide self harm and suicide crisis support services to those aged 19 to 34.

We also had the pleasure of hosting Comic Relief CEO, Liz Warner, in March 2019. As part of the visit, two young people spoke about how Harmless and The Tomorrow Project had supported them and the positive impact our work, funded by Comic Relief, had on their lives.

Thank you and please continue to support #RND text ‘YES’ to 70205 to donate £5.

To donate online: https://donation.comicrelief.com/

To celebrate 34 years of Comic relief we’ve put together a history of red noses for you to reflect back on. Which ones have you owned?

In the Media: Artists battling mental health issues have spoken out about the “volatile and competitive” nature of the music industry.

Musicians from Somerset and Bristol will share “painful experiences” at an event on 6 March to raise awareness.
 
Organisations will discuss why it is “hard to find help” to help tackle the issue at Bristol’s Trinity Centre.
 
The talk stems from a recent survey which found 80 per cent of musicians suffer stress, anxiety and depression.
 
Victoria Bamber, head of campaigns at Skiddle which commissioned the survey, said mental health in the music industry needed to be brought to the public’s attention.
 
A spokesman Help Musicians UK, which will be part of the panel discussion, said: “The precarious nature of a musician’s work, the connection between their art and identity and other myriad complex pressures can leave musicians vulnerable”.
 
In response to The Prodigy singer Keith Flint’s recent death, they added: “For generations, the music industry has lost some of its brightest talent and Keith Flint’s sad passing highlights the continued need for support for musicians and those working in the industry.”
 
Bristol-based producer and DJ Dutchie, 23, from Devon, said: “People making sexist comments make me feel inferior or stupid.
 
“Late nights and drinking, lots of travelling and time away from family and friends, the constant artistic struggle of ‘am I good enough?’.
“Also, a lot of art stems from painful experiences, and although the act of music making can often be a therapy for working through these it is by no means a straightforward process”.Ben Osborne, 31, is a musician and composer from Bristol, currently based in Berlin.
“As a solo artist and a composer for commission, my work can often be very lonely, which can trigger some negative stuff and leave me in a position where it’s hard to find help,” he said.
 
“I am someone who suffers badly from anxiety, including panic attacks, as well as depression.
 
“Financial insecurity, undue pressure, competition, a lot of drugs and booze, a lot of loneliness, a lot of prejudices in the industry against the young, the old, against some genders, against some races – all of these contribute.”
 
“Extreme working hours and also the pressures of having to maintain the public image you set for yourself can contribute to mental health issues as an artist”, said 39-year-old Dr Meaker from Somerset.
“The music industry is also a very volatile and competitive place where one minute you could be doing super well and the next minute find yourself out of favour and fashion.”
 
Zion Flex from Bristol said her experience of the music industry “has been largely negative”.
 
“Very few people cared that I struggled with depression,” she said.
“Most people ignored me and isolated me. My race only compounded this.
 
“When there is nowhere else to turn we can always write our songs. Unfortunately sometimes writing a song is not a cure.”
 
Link to original: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-47440232

Young people’s mental health: What’s school got to do with it?

There’s a growing crisis in young people’s mental health. 75% of mental illness begins before the age of 18 – and 3 children in an average classroom are affected by a diagnosable condition.
 
This new episode of MQ Open Mind explores the role the education system can play in solving this crisis – and asks, how responsible are schools and teachers?
 
We’re joined by Damani, a college student with experience of anxiety, Nick, who was a teacher for over 20 years and Lucy, a researcher focussing on mental illness during adolescence.
 
Nick and Damani share their own experiences of mental illness in a school setting and discuss if school is the right place to tackle mental health problems. They also delve into the pressures of today’s curriculum and question what the purpose of school should be – in this day and age, does being street-smart trump being book-smart?
 
Lucy sheds light on the workings of the teenage brain – and how its development can explain why young people are more susceptible to mental illness. She also talks about her time working on Myriad, a nationwide project investigating how schools prepare students to manage their mental health and improve resilience. Finally, she de-mystifies the headlines behind social media and its effects on young people’s mental health.
 
The episode ends with our visions for a ‘schooltopia’, and what must change in order to achieve these. It’s clear we have a long way to go – but what’s even clearer is that researchers, young people and teachers all have a vital role to play.
 
Listen, like and subscribe to our MQ Open Mind podcast on iTunes or Podbean, or listen to this episode below.
 

In the News: Moving the body, boosting the mind: running your way to better mental health

I once lived a life almost ruled by anxiety, intrusive thoughts and paralysing fear. I spent years looking for the thing that would release me, and when I finally found it, it wasn’t medication or therapy (although both helped). It was running. It gave me a feeling that there was a world out there beckoning me, promising hope; it gave me independence and the sense that I had reserves of strength that I wasn’t aware of.
 
There are many reasons that physical activity is said to help mental health – it boosts mood, relieves stress and improves sleep. I also find that cardio exercise can use up some of the adrenaline caused by anxiety. My panic attacks stopped, intrusive thoughts lessened and a looming sense of doom was pushed back.
 
Although the stigma that sticks to mental illness has faded in recent years, the services set up to provide assistance are still stretched and underfunded. With the caveat that exercise alone can’t cure mental health problems, or even make life easier for those living with more severe illness, it can be a revelation. A recent study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal supported the theory that physical activity is an effective prevention strategy for depression. (Although it adds that “physical activity may protect against depression, and/or depression may result in decreased physical activity”.)
 
The link between exercise and mental health is not new – in 1769, the Scottish physician William Buchan wrote that “of all the causes which conspire to render the life of man short and miserable, none have greater influence than the want of proper exercise” – but it is becoming more widely understood, says Dr Brendon Stubbs, head of physiotherapy at the South London and Maudsley NHS foundation trust.
 
One theory looks at the positive impact of exercise on the hippocampus in the brain, he says: “This region is decreased in volume in lots of mental health and cognitive conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, mild cognitive impairment and dementia.” Just 10 minutes of light exercise has been shown to have a short-term impact on the hippocampus, and a long-term impact after 12 weeks. People with certain mental health conditions, such as depression, have also been found to have elevated levels of inflammatory markers, adds Stubbs: “Therefore, one way that exercise helps protect against and manage mental illness may be reducing inflammation.” It goes to show, “there is no health without mental health”.
But despite the often-quoted statistic that one in four of us will experience mental illness, and despite knowing that exercise can help ease the symptoms, many of us are pretty inactive. NHS figures for 2018 showed that 66% of men and 58% of women aged 19 and over met the recommended aerobic guidelines of 2.5 hours of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.
This may reflect the fact that many people still see exercise as a chore. Although our perception of exercise is formed in childhood, 2017 statistics from Public Health England found that, by the final year of primary school, just 17% of children were doing the recommended amount of daily exercise.
 
 
In adulthood, exercise is often the first thing to be sacrificed, with the excuse of too little time or money; and there is quite often a narrative that we are “just not very good at it”. In the modern world, other interests are competing for our attention.
Dr Sarah Vohra, a consultant psychiatrist and author, says she sees a common trend in many of her patients. “I see plenty of young people who have been referred with mild depression or anxiety symptoms, and when you unpack what they are doing day-to-day, the answer is very little … Time in the great outdoors has been replaced with time behind a screen, and real-life relationships replaced with virtual ones.”
This increasing time spent online may contribute to a tendency to see the brain as an abstract entity, disconnected from the body. In his book, How to Think About Exercise, Damon Young writes that we often see “physical and mental exertion as somehow in conflict. Not because there is too little time or energy, but because existence is seemingly split in two.” He goes on: “Exercise is a chance to educate our bodies and minds at once.”
 
But the chartered psychologist Kimberley Wilson believes it is not just laypeople who have always thought about the two as separate things. “The mental health professions have largely functioned on the principle that the only thing that matters is what happens from the neck up. We have somewhat idealised the brain and denigrated the body as simply something to carry your brain around. We don’t think of and value our bodies and brains as unified organisms. In reality … you can’t have the health of one without the other.”
 
Vybar Cregan-Reid, author of Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human, thinks that we still have more work to do to persuade people that exercise really is an effective way to improve our mental health.
“For a long time, there has been a good deal of ignorance about the voluminous catalogue of mental benefits that different kinds of exercise can provide. People are slowly becoming more aware of these benefits, as barely a week goes by without some new trial or study being published that connects certain kinds of physical activity with mental wellbeing, but there is still some way to go with persuading people that moving outdoors is something of a miracle cure for many modern ills.”
 
So how do we persuade people that physical activity can really help the mind, without sounding preachy, simplistic or smug?
One possible tactic would be for doctors to suggest exercise and offer discounted gym membership as an accompaniment to medication and therapy. The GP Andrew Schuman says that exercise is an increasingly important topic in his conversations with patients dealing with mental health issues.
 
“Getting people to go for a walk – going outside into daylight, among other people and in sight of trees and nature – is a great first step. This may be common sense, but it’s important to say it, and say it again. You can’t, or won’t, go on to exercise if you don’t, in some way, ‘feel better’ from that very first step.”
 
But when people are at their lowest ebb, it is easy to understand why a suggestion to simply move could sound ridiculous. Lauren (not her real name), who works in primary mental healthcare, has some reservations about how exercise is recommended to patients who are suffering badly. “If we think about someone in the grips of depression or anxiety, the very nature of how they’re feeling, their negative thoughts, and the behaviour cycles they get trapped in, [can] mean that going out to a gym on their own or engaging with a group of strangers is going to feel almost impossible.”
 
Instead, she suggests, outcomes seem to be much better in “groups of people who have started exercising with their friends, starting running clubs or going on cycling weekends, and I think that’s because naturally these overcome more barriers. Ideally, I think we need to be able to replicate these kinds of conditions in organised and funded schemes, which could then be prescribed.”
 
Parkrun may be part of answer. The free scheme, set up by Paul Sinton-Hewitt when he was at a low ebb, encourages people to run 5k every week at a local event – it’s free, it’s inclusive, and there’s no emphasis on speed or the right trainers. A 2018 Glasgow Caledonian University study of more than 8,000 people showed that 89% said that participating in parkrun has had a positive impact on their happiness and mental health.
 
Another running scheme aims to help the most vulnerable in society. The Running Charity was set up in 2012 to help young people who are homeless or disadvantaged, many of whom struggle with mental health issues. As its co-founder Alex Eagle says: “Many of our young people exist in really chaotic environments and often feel quite powerless – they can put so much effort into getting a job or improving their housing, but their effort doesn’t necessarily mean that a job or safe accommodation will follow. With running, and exercise in general, whatever you put in, you get back out. There is a justice and a freedom in that, which homeless people are too often socially denied.”
Like Schuman, Eagle sees tangible results in people who engage with his initiative, starting with subtle, but profound changes, such as punctuality and eye contact. “Without a doubt, the real magic happens when they first achieve something they thought was impossible – this can be a 5k, or this can be an ultramarathon.”
 
“When you achieve something that your internal narrative told you was physically and mentally impossible, it forces you to challenge your perception of self.”
 
I still don’t fully understand why lacing up my trainers and getting out there holds back my previously debilitating anxiety, but I don’t think I’m overdoing it when I say running gave me my life back. And nobody was more surprised than I was.
 
Link to original blog: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/mar/04/moving-the-body-boosting-the-mind-running-your-way-to-better-mental-health

In the News: FUNDING for mental health services should be funneled away from treatment and into early prevention, council chiefs said.

Blackburn with Darwen Council director of public health, Dominic Harrison, said ploughing money into treating people who present at A&E departments with severe mental health problems would not improve the situation in the long term.
 
And he called for change to the way mental health services are commissioned so people can access the help they need at an earlier stage.
 
Speaking at a Blackburn with Darwen Council people overview and scrutiny committee meeting, Mr Harrison said: “I think we are almost at the point with mental health where we can’t treat our way out of the problem.
 
“Putting more money into treatment will not help – it’s not a solution.”
“We need the money in neighbourhood and community services.
“It will need the commissioning side of the system to increase the spend and change the model so we invest in our communities.
“We have done a mental health needs assessment and CCG data shows that Blackburn with Darwen has the most people in contact with mental health services in the country as a proportion of the population.
“Mental health is probably much higher than you think in terms of the causes of A&E admissions.
 
“The challenge is identifying what we can do in communities to stop that.”
 
Director of strategic development for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, Sue Moore, added: “We have started a big piece of work on this. We realise the question is how can we stop people getting unwell in the first place.
 
“This is not like getting a physical health condition. Early intervention can be profoundly life changing in helping people break out of the cycle they are in.
 
Executive member for children’s services and education, Cllr Maureen Bateson, said while the last thing they wanted was for youngsters to end up in hospital with mental health problems, the provision in cases where they do end up in hospital is inadequate.
 
She said: “The top tier support for young people is abysmal.
 
“Trying to get a mental health bed for someone who really needs it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. They are just not there.”
Cllr Jacqui Slater added mental health issues could affect people from any background and it was not just limited to people from deprived backgrounds.

In the News: Mental health services boost for expectant and new mothers

More than £50m is to be spent on improving access to mental health services for expectant and new mothers.
 
The Scottish government said it would provide access to treatment for an additional 11,000 patients.
 
It is estimated that perinatal mental illness affects up to one in five women.
 
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement on a visit to the mother and baby unit at St John’s Hospital in Livingston.
She said: “Our priority is to drive up standards of perinatal mental healthcare for new mothers and their children right across Scotland.
“Mental illness during pregnancy and during the first year after birth is really common, affecting up to one in five women.
 
“This new funding will identify mental health problems quickly so they can be treated promptly. Women and their families should also expect services to treat them with dignity and respect.”
‘I felt like a rotten orange inside’
Hayley Matthews, from Edinburgh, suffered pre and post-natal depression with her two children.
 
She says she went on a “downward spiral” of anxiety and guilt – believing that she wasn’t strong enough be a good mother.
But she pulled through thanks to the support of her “amazing” counsellor and hopes the extra government funding can help many more women like her.
 
Hayley told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “We had been trying for a second child for about four or five years and I was always quite open about wanting to extend the family. But when it happened, I went into instant shock.
 
“Everybody kept saying, you look amazing, but I felt like a rotten orange inside.”
 
Hayley opened up to her doctor and was put on the list for counselling.
She said: “This is where I’m hoping that this (government) funding will help. I have an amazing counsellor, who has saved me. Without her, I think I would be in a very different situation. She has given me the tools to help me be a strong mother.”
Ms Sturgeon added: “The impact is not just felt by women. The mental and physical health of fathers and other partners can also be affected following the birth of a new baby.
“We also know that between 5% and 10% of fathers may develop mental health problems in the perinatal period.”
Under the plans, new models of service delivery will be introduced, including specialist care for acute perinatal mental health problems and improved infant mental health services.
A new needs assessment report, funded by the Scottish government, has been published by the national Managed Clinical Network (MCN) for perinatal mental health.
 
It outlines recommendations to improve the provision of mental healthcare for expectant and new mothers and their families.
Dr Roch Cantwell, lead clinician for the Perinatal Mental Health National Managed clinical Network (PMHN), said: “This report results from the enthusiasm, dedication and drive of women and their families who experience perinatal mental ill health, and the professionals who care for them across Scotland.
“Perinatal mental illness can be devastating but we know that there are effective treatments which can manage and, in some circumstances, prevent its onset.
 
“The needs assessment and service recommendations report gives us a template to establish services which will ensure that women, their infants and families receive expert care wherever they live in Scotland and that children can have the best start in life.”
 
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-47468047