Today I made the online acquaintance of a North West speaker and campaigner with a particularly personal experience of post natal depression, and the way in which it is treated.
Elaine Hanzak writes:
"For many people the journey of pregnancy and motherhood is a very delightful and rewarding experience. Yet for me this was not the case as I developed baby blues, postnatal depression and ultimately puerperal psychosis."
Elaine made a full recovery and her story is told in her book 'Eyes without Sparkle - a journey through postnatal illness' (Radcliffe 2005)'. However she explains how inadequate training and sporadic provision for helping women with this condition in different parts of the country transform the subject into a serious equality and rights issue for health service providers to address.
Her experiences also point to the manner in which people can become stigmatised by a mental illness label -- not just at the time they receive treatment, but forever after with that history recorded on their medical record. As medical records become increasingly accessible by a wider range of health staff, this kind of issue will affect more and more people.
Elaine's web site is at http://www.elainehanzak.co.uk/, with details of how you can book her for presentations. I'm hoping that sometime in the coming weeks I'll be able to feature her in the JPS Podcast. Meanwhile you'll find her own blog here.