Last week charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) called for more targeted awareness to support Black and Asian women with mental health problems post-pregnancy.
Postpartum psychosis is a severe mental health condition that affects women soon after having a baby. While commonly many women experience the ‘baby blues’ after birth, the symptoms of the rarer postpartum psychosis include visual and auditory hallucinations, delusional thoughts, manic mood swings, depression, and extreme paranoia.
Yearly around 1400 women in the UK, from all backgrounds, experience postpartum psychosis symptoms. And according to research conducted by Mother and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK (MBRRACE), mental health conditions remain the leading cause (30%) of pregnancy-associated deaths between six weeks and one year after giving birth.
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Mortality rates for Black and Asian mothers are strikingly disproportionately overrepresented in these figures, with Black women four times, and Asian women twice, as likely to die post-pregnancy, which the MBRRACE concluded that postpartum psychosis plays a critical role in that producing that disturbing statistic.
Bringing into the light experiences of women post-pregnancy
Speaking at last weeks’ Time to Talk Day Doctor Jess Heron, CEO for APP, said: “Our research with women from Black and Asian backgrounds who have experienced postpartum psychosis shows more needs to be done to reach communities with information, to tackle stigma and self-stigma. Women describe barriers to accessing services.”
“Health professionals and charities need to reach out to different communities in response to their unique challenges. With Black and Asian women significantly more affected by pregnancy mortality, perinatal mental health charities must have tailored services and campaigns.”
To tackle this issue, the APP has been using this years' Time to Talk Day to share the stories of Black and Asian women who have experienced postpartum psychosis. And what they found is that more women from these backgrounds need to be encouraged to seek support when they are experiencing symptoms, as well as there needs to be a campaign to de-stigmatise this condition within these communities.
Catherine Cho, the author of Inferno, shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer Award, recounted her experience of postpartum psychosis and commented that: “Maternal mental health, particularly in Black and Asian communities, has an added layer of cultural pressure and shame. It's often viewed as something that should be kept quiet and hidden away. I hope that by opening up the conversation around perinatal mental health, we can show that these experiences do not have to be feared or kept in the dark."