Being the family member or friend of someone going through a mental illness can be extremely tough. Unless you have been through a mental illness yourself, it is very difficult to understand why your loved one feels the way they do. 

If you do have a loved one suffering with a maternal mental illness, here are some steps you can take to be supportive:

Gain as much information as you can

In order to support someone with a maternal mental illness, having all the information will help you to tailor your support and guide your decisions and actions. You can find out more about the range of maternal mental illnesses by visiting our Information Section.

Create a partnership with GP and specialists

Good communication between a doctor, members of the health care team, a woman with PND and her partner or carer is important, but takes time and effort. Forming a positive relationship with staff and doctors is especially important if the condition is long-term.

After making a diagnosis, the GP may refer the woman to a specialist. The specialists you are likely to come across include: psychiatrists, community psychiatric nurses, counsellors, psychologists, social workers and other members of the community mental health team or perinatal psychiatry team.

Click here to view a checklist of questions to ask doctors and specialists.

Ask for help when you need it

Don't be afraid to ask for support of other family members, friends or your doctor if you need it. Share any worries or concerns you may have and visit your own GP if you are feeling tired or stressed.

You can also get support from the Carer's Trust which provides a wealth of information and advice for carers.

Be Patient

It can take a long time for a woman to fully recover from a maternal mental illness. During this time it can be difficult to see an end in sight but try to be patient. Listening without judgement and doing your best to be patient with your loved one can make all the difference in seeding up recovery. 

Rethink.org provides an excellent resource on how to be a carer for someone with mental illness. Links to some of that information are below:

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