Community Charge Nurse – Perinatal Mental Health Service
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
I have worked in the Perinatal Mental Health Service for seven years now. Initially as a staff nurse in the mother and baby unit and now as a psychiatric nurse in the community team. Working in the community enables me to build strong therapeutic relationships with women and their families and help support their difficulties with their mental health whilst caring for a new baby. This is a safe space and protected time that allows mums to open up about how they are feeling, sharing the difficult and scary side of motherhood. Having that one-one time in their home environment allows you to really listen to what a mother is saying and understand what matters to her. I feel privileged to be invited into their homes when they have just had a new baby – one of the most vulnerable times of a woman’s life.
I am passionate about changing the stigma surrounding perinatal mental health. I still hear it from the public and even other healthcare professionals. There is ongoing judgement and high expectations put on mothers, particularly if they are struggling with their mental health. I want to change attitudes and educate people about what that means. There is so much pressure on women already, the additional negative perception can be detrimental to the wellbeing of them and their baby and can stop mothers from reaching out for help when they need it most. My hope is to raise awareness of perinatal illness and normalise some of the difficulties mothers and their families can face, to empower women to seek support and to encourage open and honest communication about the reality of motherhood and the impact this can have on your mental wellbeing.
Compassion, kindness, openness and being non-judgemental. You have to remain curious and deeply listen to what someone is saying rather than being dismissive or assuming you understand, and it’s not always helpful just to ‘fix’ the problem. It’s always important to delve that little deeper. This is a vulnerable time for parents, they are sharing distressing thoughts and feelings, worrying they will be judged or considered a ‘bad mum’. They may assume you are labelling them and often ask if their children will be removed from their care. My role is the exact opposite of that – to keep mothers and their babies together, prompting their bond and attachment whilst helping them to recover from whatever mental health problem they may be experiencing. Allowing them to believe in themself, recognise that they are good enough and support them throughout their journey of recovery.