Number of mums seeking post natal mental health support at Southern Trust more than doubles

The number of women seeking post natal mental health support in the Southern Trust has more than doubled in the first four months of 2023, compared to all of 2022.

Figures obtained by UTV show a stark rise the number of women seeking support in the Southern Trust. Between February and December last year, 43 women were referred. Since the beginning of this year, that number has more than doubled (97).

Jenny Hamill, a mother of two, told UTV how the condition left her "filled with dread, anxiety and loneliness" during her babies first Christmas.

"I can remember looking at myself in the cubbyhole under the stairs and just crying and crying and not being able to control my emotion that were coming out of me and every day I nearly didn't want to wake up," she recalled.

"Your baby's first Christmas should be the most magical Christmas you've ever had.

"That just wasn't the reality, it was filled with dread, anxiety and loneliness as well and I knew it shouldn't have been like that.

"I popped on a mask, all the smiles and that's when I knew I'm not well."

The 32-year-old recently laid her struggles bare in a social media video in a bid to get more mums to open up.

Jenny is not alone in her experience. A baby bonding group in Crossmaglen is bringing new new mums together, to share their own stories of raising their little wide-eyed wonders.

Nichola McParland from Sure Start said the group can be "really reassuring".

"It's not always what the practitioner can bring to the programme," she told UTV.

"Quite often it's what can the parents bring to the programme because they in themselves are a wealth of knowledge as they are living and breathing it."

Dr Frances O'Hagan told UTV: "The biggest part of post-natal depression for us, is to normalise it and to say, 'Look this happens, this is out of your control and the most important thing is that you come and get some advice from us'."

As for Jenny, she's now in the process of starting up her own support group in her home city of Armagh. Helping others while loving her children and every day spent with them. "To wake up to them every morning and to be present, just to be present with them, it's all I could ever ask for," she said.

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