This week marks both World Mental Health Day and Baby Loss Awareness Week and the two are intertwined.
· “During the pregnancy after the loss of my sons my anxiety became unbearable, I was unable to focus for fear of history repeating itself. My manager was there to provide the space for me to feel able to voice that anxiety and work together on how we could address it in the workplace.”
Whatever the outcome of pregnancy, mental health support is vital to parents and the theme of this year’s awareness week is the lack of support available in this area. Much of the efforts in this area are naturally focused on hospitals but there is a role for the workplace in supporting parents returning from parental leave or following a pregnancy loss, and in this blog you can find links to support.
Importance of awareness
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day on October 10th is a focus on suicide prevention which builds on the work of last month’s World Suicide Prevention Day. I support bereaved parents both inside and outside of the Department and have seen what can happen when people don’t feel able to speak about their pain and need for help.
The fluffiness of the term awareness raising can hide the brutal core of what happens when people are not aware of the pain and devastating consequences of a toxic combination of isolation, feeling disenfranchised with no support mechanism. This is why we raise awareness, so people can feel able to speak about that pain and find the resources and support available to help manage. This is as true of parental mental health as it is about bereavement.
Awareness weeks and days like these are about equipping everyone with the knowledge and skills to have difficult and awkward conversations without fear. Much like the campaigns on #FindingTheWords, it doesn’t have to be grand gestures or about fixing the unfixable. It can be about listening, naming it and then helping signpost to appropriate support.
National charities such as Sands, the Miscarriage Association, Antenatal Results & Choices, Child Bereavement UK and Tommy’s offer resources to help support anyone affected by pregnancy, baby or child loss.
Online directory services such as Hub of Hope (also available as an app), At a Loss and the Good Grief Trust that can help you find more local support charities or counselling. Regular Twitter chats like #BabyLossHour, #RainbowBabyHour and #TweetCradle offer opportunities to speak with other people who have gone through the same. You can also speak to trained bereavement counsellors online using Grief Chat.
There’s a wealth of material available on maternal mental health on this blog and through #PNDHour on Twitter.
There are lots of practical resources to help educate and provide a framework for difficult conversations about suicide and if you can, it’s worth 20 minutes of your time to make use of the Zero Suicide Alliance online training.
Talking covers a broad range of ways to communicate and many services like The Samaritans and Papyrus (for young people) reflect that with options to email, text and write to them. They have advice for people worried about someone else.
There is help. Awareness weeks can open up difficult conversations but we need to keep them going until they no longer are difficult.