PANDAS Guest Blogs - Archive - PANDAS Foundation UK


How To Deal With Anxiety – part 3

How To Deal With Anxiety - part 3

In the final part of our anxiety blog, we look at how meditation can show us more clearly our habitual patterns of mind and, ultimately, even free us from those very same habits.

As many of us will have experienced sometime in life, anxiety can have an incredibly negative impact on the lives of those it affects directly, as well as those around them. In our previous two blogs we examined how to deal with anxiety using two different approaches –one rational and one investigative, both of which use mindfulness to help to reduce levels of anxiety.

And while using one, or both of these can have significant effect on how much anxiety we feel, by taking that final step, the Vulnerable Approach, we start to see howmeditation for anxiety can allow us to achieve even greater results.



In the two previous approaches, we reassessed our view of anxiety and looked into its nature. Now we’re ready to move onto the most rewarding part of the journey.

The Vulnerable Approach requires a more formal meditation technique. For it to be effective, we need to let down our guard and learn to allow anything and everything to arise in the mind. It can be both frightening and exciting in equal measure. But most of all, it’s incredibly liberating.

And of course this what we are training in every time we sit and do a Headspace meditation. We are learning to witness the mind, to witness both thoughts and feelings from a place of neutrality or objectivity. Essentially, we are allowing the mind to rest in the present moment, no longer swayed or overwhelmed by anxious thoughts or feelings.

So, when an anxious thought comes, we see it, we let it go. Another thought comes, perhaps connected, perhaps not, we acknowledge it, and we let it go. Next, a feeling or sensation may arise; we feel it, we welcome it, and again, we let it go. But no matter what the thought or feeling is, however we feel about it, we don’t block it, we allow it to arise, embrace it and then it passes away. It may feel like it comes back again very quickly, but even if it is the same message, it is a new thought and should be treated in just the same way.

And the way that this helps with our anxiety levels is this: once we’ve mastered this technique (simply meaning when we have practiced it often enough and are confident to apply it), we can see that everything is always changing. Sure, sometimes it feels that anxiety is with us all of the time, but in fact, if we witness the mind often enough, we see there are times when it is, and times when it isn’t.

We’ll also see that it’s not just our own mind that behaves like this – in fact all minds do. And we start to see this more clearly. Sure, maybe not everyone experiences anxiety in that way and we are all on a scale. But equally for others, anger, sadness, loneliness or something else might be just as challenging. And so as we see these patterns in our own mind we start to get a sense of how they impact others too. The knock-on affect of this is that we no longer feel isolated and alone. Instead we feel a sense of it being very normal and nothing to fear.

Finally, the vulnerable approach allows the mind to soften a little. We see that thoughts are just thoughts, a feeling is just a feeling – nothing more, nothing less. This takes nothing from the wonder of human life, nor does it add to our confusion. It simply allows the mind to be free, open, and ready to experience life exactly as it is, and to welcome that experience.


This is the most courageous approach of all, requiring us to let down our guard and welcome everything and anything into our experience. It takes both time and patience, but be brave, the rewards are beyond anything we might imagine.

Andy Puddicombe

To see this article in full, please visit:


Welcoming and studying anxiety

Welcoming and studying anxiety

In the second part of our blog, we use mindfulness to examine anxiety more closely. If you missed the first part, check it out here — In our previous blog on how to deal with anxiety, we talked about approaching the emotion in a logical way using the Rational Approach.

So now we should have a feel of where anxiety comes from, and why it can be hard to shake. If the Rational Approach alone has allowed you to step away from your pattern of anxiety, that’s fantastic. You could choose to stop the journey here. But if you’re not quite there yet, or you’d like to go a little further into reducing, or simply understanding anxiety, in our next step, we need to turn detective.

Step Two – The Investigative Approach. Welcoming and studying anxiety 

Having already worked through the Rational Approach to anxiety, we should have a good idea of its mechanics – how it builds and perpetuates. Now, we can investigate it.

The Investigative Approach requires us to witness our anxiety in a very particular way. Instead of thinking about ‘you’ or ‘me’, we just need to observe our anxiety as it is – a natural phenomenon.

What is it?
Where does it come from?
Where do I feel it?
What does it feel like?

We need to discover the answers to these questions, but hurrying or forcing them in a rush to put the mind at ease will only cause more thinking, and that’s not helpful in this exercise. So, firstly, it’s crucial we have a genuine interest in discovering the answers, simply for the sake of knowing.

Only by approaching with this curious attitude will we create a true and long-lasting shift in perspective over anxiety, and that’s just what we’re looking for. Secondly, we need to be brutally honest with ourselves and avoid being biased in our investigation.

Because, if we’re only investigating in the hope that our anxiety will stop – we’re not truly investigating, in fact we’re resisting. The difference is really subtle and it’s very easy for us to deceive ourselves. Being open, honest and genuinely interested in what we find out is the key here, no matter whether this brings us more, less or the same level of anxiety. It’s the process that’s more important than the result. You could say the process is the result. Just remember, when you’re investigating something as delicate as the mind, you must be gentle.

However much you want to discover answers, don’t apply too much pressure or effort. Instead, aim to welcome the feeling of anxiety, because the more we can welcome it, the easier it will be to investigate. And that’s what’s most beautiful about the Investigative Approach, because by welcoming anxiety, it moves from something to resist, to something we can embrace.

A Word of Caution

This approach is very effective. However, it’s easy to too get caught up in more thought. Combining it with step three, the Vulnerable Approach – featured in our final Anxiety blog – is extremely effective and completes our journey to reducing anxiety.

Andy Puddicombe

To view this article in full, please visit:


How To Deal With Anxiety

How To Deal With Anxiety

This month at Headspace we’re focusing on how to deal with anxiety. Most of us have suffered from anxiety, or know someone close who has. And while anxiety can be rational and useful – like when we need to make the right decision in a life-threatening situation, the anxiety we’re more familiar with is usually a little less helpful.

The problem with anxiety is that it inhibits our ability to deal with the issue that’s caused it in the first place. It makes our capacity for rational thought dip, while it, itself, begins to spiral out of control. This makes it harder to address the issue and causes genuine misery to ourselves and those around us.

So what can we do about anxiety?

Finding how to deal with anxiety can sometimes feel like an impossible task. Fortunately, from a meditation or mindfulness point of view, there are a few options to help, either on their own, or together. In fact, meditation for anxiety is proven to have a positive impact.

A bit like steps, we can tackle them all to achieve the greatest results, but even taking one or two can still have a real impact on how we feel. Further tips on how to deal with anxiety are provided below…

Step one 

The Rational Approach – understanding our anxiety

A great place to start on our journey to reduce anxiety is to understand the processes at work. We know that anxiety can feel irrational and illogical, but by approaching it logically, we gain a sense of where it comes from and why it’s hard to stop.

Our individual conditioning determines how anxiety arises in the mind. But forget trying to trace this back – there are too many factors involved. Anxiety is a natural response; we can’t control when it arises (aside from trying to suppress it, which is extremely unhelpful in the long-term) but we can change how we relate to it. And this is the key.

Breaking the cycle

Think about the times when anxiety hits. We resist the feeling with an emotion like frustration, sadness, or ironically, more anxiety. We’ve immediately created a cycle where we believe it’s bad to feel anxious, so we look for a way to get rid of the feeling, and we apply significant energy to try and avoid or eliminate it.

We then make matters worse by noticing the physical sensations that anxiety brings. The mind feels anxious, the chest tightens, and the mind associates this physical feeling as a sign of anxiety, and so becomes more anxious…

It feels like an inescapable pattern, but with practise, we can learn to step out of the loop.

Like any other emotion, anxiety is neither good nor bad. It begins as nothing more than a passing thought. From here, it’s up to us what we choose to do with it, how much importance we give it, and how long we hold onto it for.

Anxiety is a really strong habit, so at first, it won’t feel this simple. But this is the potential.

The same applies when that starting thought becomes a feeling or sensation. If we think about the sensation and why it’s happening, we exacerbate the situation. But by simply noticing the sensation; being present with it, rather than its connotations, the cycle is interrupted.

Taking this from theory to experience takes practice, but by understanding what’s going on, we can begin to set the mind free.

A word of caution

As thinking got us into this mess, it’s risky to rely on thinking alone to get us out of it. Consider following this method with step two, the Investigative Approach, featured in our next blog.

Andy Puddicombe

To view the article in full, please visit:


We’ve had one busy week here on the PANDAS Guest Blog, and one amazing lady has been keeping a close eye on our revelations.  Laura Wood (from has written a clear-cut, no holds-barred blog post about each of the seven questions we asked, and the responses to them from the UK’s major political parties.

It’s a really interesting article, and if you don’t have time to hack through all the answers given on the PANDAS Guest Blog, then this makes a fantastic, informative substitute.

Go and read it now!  Before tomorrow! VOTE FOR PERINATAL HEALTH over on Laura’s blog Keeping It Eclectic!

Day 6 – Question #7

Question 7:

Do you have plans to invest in both the services and research surrounding perinatal illnesses?  Peer support is vital in helping to help families who are struggling with these illnesses, why isn’t more investment given to organisations who provide these services?

 CONSERVATIVE (The Rt Hon Grant Shapps) – Conservative

We have committed to investing £75 million over the next five years to give the right care to more women who experience mental ill health during the perinatal or antenatal period. We have also developed a plan to support women with postnatal mental health problems which will share best practice and learning with the NHS and are investing in the training of specialist staff to help support families who need it.

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT (Norman Lamb) – Liberal Democrat

Absolutely. As we have set out, perinatal mental health is going to continue to be an area we focus on in the next government. Building on the £50 million funding we secured in the March 2015 budget, we will continue to invest in perinatal mental health services across the country to ensure that pregnant women and mothers know that specialist mental health support is available when they are struggling to cope. This funding will pay for expanding existing services – and creating new ones – staff training to build better awareness of perinatal mental health issues across the NHS, as well as delivering support to voluntary sector organisations who often provide absolutely vital support. We will also be investing £50 million in mental health research to ensure that we are funding the most effective treatments and can help as many people as successfully as possible. 

GREEN PARTY (Jillian Creasy) – GreenWe support a fully funded NHS providing a high standard of evidence-based care in all areas of medicine. We are also planning a significant increase in investment in scientific research. The allocation of funding to different subjects will be determined by independent experts under government guidance, but could include perinatal illness and care. We agree that peer support is useful for families and that is worth supporting voluntary organisations which foster it. But this must not be at the expense of the NHS. In our view, ideally NHS midwives, health visitors, and Surestart/Children’s Centre organisers would run groups which bring people together to support each other. The NHS and children’s services have been hit hard by cuts but the Green Party would increase funding for local authorities and the NHS so that they can provide this kind of service. We have spoken out against cuts to the NHS and local services from day one, and will continue to do so.

TUSC (Hannah Sell) – TUSC

Research is crucial to keep improving practice in perinatal care so investment in this would be a key plank of our approach. Investing in these services is vital to ensuring that children get all of their needs met and that they are safe and that each and every parent is properly supported to be the best parent that they can be. Perinatal Services would be commissioned based on the needs of the population. We would shift the emphasis of services towards early intervention and prevention. Socialist policy would also tackle the social issues such as poverty, poor housing and lack of community services that contribute to the development of paternal mental illness. We would look at peer support closely and we would wish to develop this service and ensure that people who choose to work in this service work are paid a living wage and that they access training and further support to develop the scope of the role even further.

PLAID CYMRU (Heledd Brooks-Jones) – Plaid Cymru

We want to make Wales a centre for research excellence, and would work to ensure that Wales receives its share of health research funding, attracting quality researchers to Wales.  At present, Wales is starved of funding. We are the only party calling for parity with Scotland in terms of funding, which would equate to an extra £1.2bn per year. This would make a drastic difference to our public services, and would ensure that those in need are not unnecessarily penalised. 

Day 6 – Question #6

Question 6:

What do you intend to do to raise the awareness of postnatal depression in men? How do you plan to help remove this stigma?

CONSERVATIVE (The Rt Hon Grant Shapps) – Conservative

The birth of a child can impact on everyone in the family and we need to do more to ensure that we offer support to families, not just mothers, during this time. The stigma surrounding all mental health issues has been around for too long and we must work to change that in our society if we are to really tackle the issue of mental health.


Liberal DemocratI think that mental health issues across the board remain too stigmatised. From self harm to eating disorders and postnatal depression – in both men and women – we have for too long hidden mental health problems in the shadows and pretended they don’t exist – or would go away if we didn’t name them. In this government, Paul Burstow and I have worked tirelessly – with the vocal support of Nick Clegg – to challenge and change this, and we are beginning to see results. We delivered government funding for the Time to Change anti-stigma campaign and have committed to continue funding it in the next parliament. We have also set out our plans to increase funding for mental health services by £3.5 billion in the next government so that we can work towards providing services for everyone who needs them and ending the stigma attached to mental illness.

GREEN PARTY (Jillian Creasy) – Green

We think it is vital to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental health across the board. We support the ‘Time for Change’ campaign which raises awareness of mental health and helps to portray mental health more accurately in the media. We will also campaign to end discrimination based on mental health, for example by employers, as this can prevent people seeking help and add to their difficulties. We believe that there should be more involvement of men in antenatal and postnatal care, which would bring them in touch with health professionals and make it more likely that they would express anxieties. At the same time we would raise awareness amongst health professionals and help them to detect possible mental health concerns among all the people they work with, including fathers.

TUSC (Hannah Sell) – TUSC

We agree that this is an area that is ignored and that needs funding for further research studies. To tackle stigma and discrimination an education programme would be devised and then rolled out in the schools about the signs and risks of men developing post-natal depression. A nationwide education drive would also be implemented outside of the schools to the general public. The huge importance of the role of the father in supporting and developing his own relationship with his baby could be emphasised alongside this information. We would support the NHS to engage with fathers as soon as their partner presents for ante natal care. Further written information must be provided for fathers at this stage about the signs of post-natal depression and where they can access help. The NHS and social care would have a pot of funding to be used specifically to enable fathers to get together to meet each other and spend their own protected time engaging in activities with their babies.

PLAID CYMRU (Heledd Brooks-Jones) –Plaid Cymru

We will ensure that all schools include the teaching of tolerance and anti-discrimination to ensure nobody is stigmatized for their mental health problems.

SNP (Shona Robison) – SNP

Tackling mental health stigma and discrimination are priorities within the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy. As part of that commitment, the Scottish Government funds see me, Scotland’s national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination of mental ill health.

Day 5 – Question #5

Question 5:

Our Crisis service is in crisis.  What will you do to improve this service, which should be a lifeline for many families in dire need of assistance?


CONSERVATIVE (The Rt Hon Grant Shapps) –

 ConservativeWe agree that crisis care needs to improve which is why we have developed the mental health crisis care concordat. This is a national agreement between services and agencies involved in the care and support of people in crisis. It sets out how organisations will work together better to make sure that people get the help they need when they are having a mental health crisis.


 Liberal DemocratIn government, I have made it a priority to improve crisis care for mental health. For too long, the NHS has prioritised physical health over mental health – and it is completely discriminatory unfair and frankly inhumane that people in a mental health emergency have too often found they can’t get the help they so desperately need. That’s why I established the crisis care concordat and encouraged local areas across the country to sign up to show their commitment – and more importantly – to make sure that processes and protocols are in place so that people in mental health crisis can always get the help they seek.

GREEN PARTY (Jillian Creasy) – Green

The Green Party manifesto calls for better crisis care in mental health, as we recognise that delays in getting assessment, treatment or admission in the early stages of a crisis can be very detrimental. The Green Party would ensure that everyone experiencing a mental health crisis, including children and young people, should have safe and speedy access to quality care, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, and make sure a mental health bed is available for everyone who needs one within a reasonable distance of their home. We will end the inappropriate use of police cells as ‘places of safety’ for children by next year, and stop the practice completely by the end of the Parliament unless there are very exceptional circumstances. We will also work to reduce the need for crisis care, by making sure people who can get help earlier. Current waiting times for talking therapies are shocking and we will reduce these to a maximum of 28 days. We will also support the ‘Time for Change’ campaign and other programmes which aim to raise awareness, reduce stigma and end the discrimination associated with mental health, which will encourage people to come forward for help and treatment earlier. We are committed to improving mental health care by investing substantially in services and training more staff, and by the end of the next Parliament in 2020 we will reach a point where mental health is on a par with physical health in terms of status and funding.

TUSC (Hannah Sell) – TUSC

The crisis in crisis services must be remedied with immediate effect and this will boil down to a lack of funding. Crisis services should be available 24 hours a day and there should be an out of hours helpline for distressed parents to ring for support and advice. This should be staffed by properly paid and trained specialists in post-natal care. Support at night for vulnerable groups of people is lacking and it is of paramount importance that distressed parents have someone to talk to when they are at their most vulnerable.

PLAID CYMRU (Heledd Brooks-Jones) – Plaid Cymru

Again, the integration of public services is a vital step towards making our healthcare system in Wales more efficient in dealing with crises. Working with charities and mental health specialists we would work to improve crisis services and ensure the patient, again, is the focal point. In terms of emergency care, so that more ambulances are available for dispatch and able to release patients into A&E without undue delays, we will increase resources for ambulances and staffing and ensure that there is sufficient emergency care available, including advances practitioners such as nurses and paramedics, to treat people at the scene.

Day 4 – Question #4

Question 4:

What will be done to improve the consistency of pre and postnatal mental health care throughout the UK?

CONSERVATIVE (The Rt Hon Grant Shapps) – Conservative

There certainly is too much variation in the system at the moment but the problem is we don’t have enough information about who is doing a good job and who isn’t. That is why we have asked the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University to develop a perinatal mental health outcome indicator for the NHS. This will be used to ensure we know how well hospitals are performing. This information can then be used to share best practice and learning and improve consistency throughout the country.

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT (Norman Lamb) – Liberal Democrat

We want to make sure that wherever you are in the country, pregnant women and new mothers can get the specialist mental health support they need to keep them and their families safe and well. That’s why the additional £250m we have pledged over the next 5 years will be targeted at improving and expanding services, spreading good practice, improving staff training, and ending the postcode lottery that mothers currently face.

GREEN PARTY (Jillian Creasy) – Green

The Green Party would set national standards of care to make sure that no part of the country is left behind, but we would let local areas to work out the best way of achieving them, because we believe that health professionals are best placed to determine how they should work. Staff in the health service are tired of constant reorganisation which does not always listen to them as experts. Our substantial investments in mental health will make sure that it catches up with physical health in terms of status and funding by the end of the next five-year Parliament. We say five years because it will take time to train all the new staff which are needed. The Green Party is also completely opposed to the introduction of market mechanisms and privatisation into our healthcare services, which put service standards at risk and could mean the introduction of charges for more NHS services, as well as wasting money that could be spent on helping patients. We will fight for a fully publicly funded, publicly managed NHS, free at the point of use for all.

TUSC (Hannah Sell) – 

TUSCThere are nationwide inconsistencies in perinatal care and our approach would involve bringing all services up the standard of the best perinatal services in the country. We would support services to seek feedback from families of what they found helpful and supportive and assist services to act on the findings. Commissioners in areas where services are identified as lacking would have increased powers to draw on the necessary funding to improve things. Funding would be provided for professionals from across the country to meet in health conferences to have access to the latest research findings to further improve on existing perinatal services and to share best practice.

PLAID CYMRU (Heledd Brooks-Jones) – Plaid Cymru

Integrating health and social care in Wales would ensure consistency and cut bureaucracy across the board.

SNP (Shona Robison) – SNP

Health is a devolved issue in Scotland and local NHS boards are responsible for pre and postnatal care, including the mental health of mothers. The SNP Scottish government is committed to improving mental health in Scotland. That’s why £15 million is being invested in an Innovation Fund to look at better ways to deliver services and, as part of our proposals for higher health spending, will seek to increase this investment to £100 million over the next 5 years.
NHS Scotland keeps under review the range of community and specialist services that it delivers to meet the needs of women experiencing perinatal mental illness. The aim is to identify quickly those at risk and ensure access to appropriate and timely care, treatment and support.

Day 3 – Question #3

Question 3:

Do you have any intention of opening more Mother and Baby Units in the UK to ensure that Mothers and families don’t have to travel miles away from home?  Is there a possibility that a Mother and Baby Unit could be placed in every hospital?

CONSERVATIVE (The Rt Hon Grant Shapps) – Conservative

Having easy access to specialist care for those who experience mental health difficulties during and after pregnancy is extremely important. That is why we are putting training in place to ensure there are specialist staff trained in perinatal mental health in every birthing unit in the country by 2017.

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT (Norman Lamb) – Liberal Democrat

We have committed to funding 8 new mother and baby units and will ensure 40 linked community services to guarantee mothers and babies the joined up support they need.

GREEN PARTY (Jillian Creasy) – Green

The Green Party would set national standards of care to make sure that no part of the country is left behind, but we would let local areas to work out the best way of achieving them, because we believe that health professionals are best placed to determine how they should work. Staff in the health service are tired of constant reorganisation which does not always listen to them as experts. Our substantial investments in mental health will make sure that it catches up with physical health in terms of status and funding by the end of the next five-year Parliament. We say five years because it will take time to train all the new staff which are needed. The Green Party is also completely opposed to the introduction of market mechanisms and privatisation into our healthcare services, which put service standards at risk and could mean the introduction of charges for more NHS services, as well as wasting money that could be spent on helping patients. We will fight for a fully publicly funded, publicly managed NHS, free at the point of use for all.

TUSC (Hannah Sell) –TUSC 

We agree that there are not enough and this is because of NHS cuts and because services are chosen based purely on the availability of increasingly limited finances. Under socialist policies decisions would be based on the actual needs of the population. We would want every mother and child assessed as being in need of care and monitoring in a mother and baby unit to have timely and speedy access. We think that the thresholds for admission to specialist post-natal mental health care are too high and many families are denied services. We would direct resources to remedy this situation and health care would be based on need and not on profit. It is of paramount importance that mothers and babies have support from partners and extended family to aid recovery and barriers to recovery like long travel time must be removed.

PLAID CYMRU (Heledd Brooks-Jones) – Plaid Cymru

We are opposed to the centralization of services that is currently happening under the present UK and Welsh Government. We want care to be provided as close to the people as possible.

SNP (Shona Robison) –

SNPThe SNP Scottish government announced earlier this year that it is undertaking a refresh of their approach to maternity and neonatal services to ensure that every mother and baby continues to get the best possible care from Scotland’s health service. As part of this review, consideration will be given as to whether in the face of changing demographics and birth rates, Scotland has the right maternity and neonatal services in place to continue to deliver and enhance the excellent care provided.

Day 2 – Question #2

Question 2:

I think the depression questionnaire needs to be compulsory and done at different times. At the five day check is important but at that point I was so sick and exhausted I didn’t recognise my own feelings. I’d like to see more care for mums during the first six months.  – Postnatal care in the community is woefully sparse, what commitment is there to improve the quality and quantity of care for mothers in the first month, not just the first ten days?

CONSERVATIVE (The Rt Hon Grant Shapps) –

ConservativeMidwives play a crucial role in supporting families during and after pregnancy. As the first point of contact for many mothers, we want to ensure that all midwives are better trained in perinatal mental health. That is why we are working with HEE to put a specific module focusing on perinatal mental health into midwife training to help them spot and respond to signs of mental health problems at any stage during pregnancy and after child birth.

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT (Norman Lamb) – Liberal Democrat

For far too long postnatal mental health care has been neglected. As Minister for Mental Health, I have seen the damage this has done and that’s why I worked hard to make sure that in the last budget we allocated funds to start putting this right. £50m has been allocated for this year and the next. And we will carry on investing and putting prevention at the top of the agenda, with £250m additional funding over five years to transform mental health care for pregnant women, new mothers and those who have experienced the heartbreak of miscarriage or still birth. 

We also want to make sure that everyone in touch with mental health services is getting the best, most effective support we can provide. So we have also committed to establishing a world-leading mental health research fund, with an investment of £50m, to support cutting edge research to further our understanding of mental illness, and the most effective interventions and treatments.​

GREEN PARTY (Jillian Creasy) – GreenThank you for sharing your story. We believe the most effective way to help mums over the first six months, and to make sure that depression does not go unnoticed, is to have a trusted, named, midwife and health visitor and an approachable GP who keeps in touch.  Midwives should keep in touch for the first 6 weeks, and then hand over to a Health Visitor, highlighting mothers in special need for extra attention. Our manifesto specifically commits to increasing funding for mental health, too, with special attention for mothers during and after pregnancy, which could include Community Psychiatric Nurses and counsellors with an interest in postnatal depression and care. We will make sure that no one has to wait more than 28 days to access talking therapies, and wherever possible less. Far too many people are struggling along without getting the help they need, leading to crises which could have been prevented. The Green Party will increase funding to the NHS by £12 billion a year, to make improvements like this possible.

TUSC (Hannah Sell) – TUSCWe agree that post-natal care is really sparse and this can only be rectified by increasing resources. We reiterate that intervention at this key juncture at the very start of a child’s life is worth the investment and will pay dividends over the long term. Midwives are only involved with new mothers for days post birth and their length of involvement with babies and parents should last until the parents feel confident that they can competently manage the care of their newborn. In other words the input of the midwife should be guided far more by the wishes and needs of the parent and arbitrary limits should be removed. Services need to be adequately resourced and flexible enough to accommodate this.

There should be investment in a programme of specialist training for gp’s and midwives so that they can speedily recognise and treat the symptoms of post-natal depression before the mother and baby reach a stage where the risk of harm to mother or child escalates. More robust links need to be established between mental health services, children’s services and post-natal care so that midwives have easy access to refer parents to services for assessment and input.

There are not enough perinatal nurses involved with mothers who have a diagnosis of mental illness and this service needs to be expanded.

There needs to be a huge programme to expand ‘sure start’, 1 O’Clock clubs and other community schemes to support parents and children from 0-5 years. Mothers who need time out should be entitled to access this for several hours a day if she wishes and she should be able to leave her child in a properly regulated, free, state funded crèche facility and feel confident that her child is safe, content and learning through play. These services would help to relieve some of the stress of parenting, protect parents against social isolation and prevent the onset and exacerbation of post-natal depression.

PLAID CYMRU (Heledd Brooks-Jones) –Plaid Cymru

We acknowledge how difficult it is for mothers and would increase the number of district and community nurses, making sure that care is available for those who need it. We would also integrate health and social care, making services more streamlines and effective.  This would put the patient at the heart of our health and social care system, putting an end to the top-down approach that currently stands.

SNP (Shona Robison) – SNP

Providing the highest quality maternity care both before, during and after birth is one of the key priorities for the SNP Scottish government and they are committed to ensuring that every woman gets the care that is right for them. We are committed to ensuring all women and their babies are provided with person centred, safe and effective postnatal care, with a named midwife for a minimum of 10 days post birth.

The Scottish Government is rolling-out the successful Family Nurse Partnership programme across Scotland – a model of delivering intensive support to vulnerable young first time mothers which has been shown to significantly improve a range of outcomes for children.
We believe that this investment is one of the best investments we can make as a society – we give young mothers the support they need, we help children to get the best possible start in life, and we reduce public spending further down the line, because we have better health, education and employment outcomes.

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