Friday, July 01, 2011

You can't join NHS post-natal depression support group, you're too sad: What mother was told by mental health nurse

A young mother suffering from post-natal depression was told she would 'bring down' other mothers if she joined an NHS support group. Rachael Dobson was told that she was too unhappy to be allowed to join other mothers in the same situation in a bid to regain full health.

The 22-year-old was shocked when a health visitor refused to refer her to the group while a mental health nurse also refused to help her, saying she should 'work through' her problems on her own.

Mrs Dobson, who suffered severe post-natal depression following the birth of her son Andreas, is now setting up her own charity to help other sufferers.

She said: 'The health visitor told me there was a support group where women suffering from post-natal depression would meet up but she said to me: 'You're two pegs above them and you'll bring them all down.' 'It was like being told I was too unhappy to go to the group but that was the whole point of the group. 'It would hardly be full of women joking around - all these women were suffering post-natal depression. 'I genuinely felt like I had been slapped round the face.

'Post-natal depression is very misunderstood but it had a devastating effect on me. 'Some days I couldn't physically get up and my husband would have to take the day off and drag me out of bed. 'I've always been very active and sociable but post-natal depression knocked me sideways.'

Mrs Dobson was struck down with post-natal depression just minutes after giving birth to her son Andreas on February 8 last year. She said: 'The birth wasn't exactly plain sailing. I had an emergency caesarean and I felt as if I was being attacked. 'When Andreas was delivered I was put in a side room on my own and looking over into the cot I was not met with love or joy, just nothing.'

Her fragile state got rapidly worse when she and husband Stuart, 26, took Andreas back to their home in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. She said: 'For the first few weeks I would cry when my husband walked through the door and would launch into rageful fits of anger.

'I wouldn't do anything with my son and when he cried at night I would bury my head in the pillow and Stuart would get up to help him. 'One morning I was overwhelmed with tremendous anger and I wanted him [Andreas] gone. 'I was then met with a sadness and horror because I couldn't believe I felt like this towards a baby.

'I rang my health visitor and collapsed into tears on the phone. She came round and I poured everything out. 'After that I was contacted by a community practice nurse from the mental health team but she just told me I had to 'work through it' on my own.'

Rachael and Stuart, who both work for Severn Trent Water, moved to a new house in Shrewsbury under the care of a different health visitor.

Social Services got involved and Rachael was banned from being on her own with Andreas for four months until her condition improved and she was deemed safe. She has now set up her own support group called the Pandas Foundation for other mums suffering post-natal depression.

She said: 'I feel like I was left on my own by the health visitor. 'I was lucky that I had my family to fall back on for help and I feel like I'm coming out the other end of the post-natal depression now which is why I want to help others. 'I want to create a support network and one-to-one sessions for women and men who are suffering like I did. 'Post-natal depression is a terrible thing to happen to anyone and it almost sent me over the edge.

'I feel let down by the health visitor who refused to help me and almost led me to lose my family.'


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