'They saved my family': Mums urged not to suffer in silence after drop in those seeking help for post-natal depression

  • Watch Astrid Quinn's report.

There are calls for more women facing perinatal mental health worries to come forward for support and not suffer in silence.

NHS services in South Yorkshire say they've seen a worrying drop in the number of mums struggling with post-natal depression, or perinatal mental health, coming forward.

Following the first lockdown, the region saw a huge spike in referrals, but now that tougher restrictions have returned, the number of those reaching out has fallen. 

Kathryn reached out for help for her acute post-natal depression Credit: Family photo

Kathryn Hamelton, from Sheffield, gave birth to her fourth child Sophia in February last year.

But caring for a newborn baby and three other children in the isolation of lockdown began to take its toll and in October 2020, she tried to take her own life. She explained:

I just felt too much pain. I just didn't want my kids to see what I was going through. I couldn't do it anymore. That was my lowest point. I just felt so embarrassed and so scared. I never thought I was capable of that.

Kathryn Hamelton

She added: "When people ring you on the phone or on Zoom, you feel like you've just got to go hi yeah hi we're good, how are you? and put a face on and I felt like I'd got a lot of pressure on me and that it's all on you and you've got to keep everyone happy and perfect."

Kathryn reached out for help for her acute post-natal depression. She said: "If I could tell one more mum know where to go or where to turn to, because I didn't know where to turn to - I was petrified and they are little angels that just saved us, not just me they saved my family."

But services in Sheffield say many mum's like Kathryn aren't getting the help they need.

Kathryn is urging other mums to seek help Credit: ITV Calendar

The admission figures in March show a dramatic drop in referrals, but in June when Covid-19 restrictions were eased, the service saw an influx in those reaching out.

There was a sudden drop in referrals again in December after the second lockdown restrictions came in, and again in January as the third round of lockdown was announced.

Perinatal mental health nurse, Julie Driver, said:

Don't think just because of lockdown that there is no services out there to help. There is more than ever a need for support at this moment. We don't want to see that dip in women accessing mental health services.

Julie Driver, perinatal mental health nurse

Kathryn is now looking forward to a life with her family and has this message for other mums: "I've been discharged from perinatal, so that another mum can have a chance at getting better.

"Before I was quite ashamed but now I'm like, no, I'm going to tell people what I've been through. I've had so many mums message me saying I've felt exactly the same."

You can find help and support around perinatal mental health via one of the website below:

Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster Perinatal Mental Health Service

Light pre and post natal support