HOPE 2018: Ground breaking awareness raising event in the House of Commons on mental well being in women during pregnancy
The House of Commons hosts HOPE 2018 on mental well-being in women during pregnancy
World renowned child and adolescent psychiatrist, composer, musician, artist, author, speaker and humanitarian, all rolled into one, Dr Ramya Mohan, shuttling between Bangalore and London spoke on Creativity and Creation: A mental health strategy using creative arts for women and families in pregnancy and beyond at HOPE 2018 in the House of Commons on December 10. The event held at Attlee Suite, the UK Parliament in Westminster, consultant obstetrician, Dr Raja Gangopadhyay from the UK organised the event, which was eventually aimed at raising awareness in society and further removing the stigma.
Worldwide, at least one in ten mothers suffer from mental health conditions during pregnancy (WHO), making this one of the commonest health conditions during pregnancy. Mental health conditions are still one of the leading causes of death of the mothers in the UK and globally. According to the last Confidential Enquiry into Maternal death (MBRRACE report), almost a quarter of mothers died due to psychiatric causes. What is more, one in seven mothers died of suicide. Many such sad deaths and suffering are preventable if appropriate measures are taken during pregnancy and after childbirth. However, many mothers (and families) do not get the support they need during this vital period of life. Many mothers sadly suffer in silence due to stigma, shame, and fear of the baby being removed by the social services. Stress/ poorly controlled mental health conditions during pregnancy can also adversely affect pregnancy outcomes. This can lead to low birth weight, premature labour, preeclampsia and mental health problems in the unborn child.
At this booked-out mental health event, Dr Ramya, while highlighting the particular mental health issues faced by expectant and new mothers and their families, laid emphasis on the science /role of creativity and the use of the creative arts (Music, Art) in supporting emotional well-being and mental health. She discussed her internationally acclaimed therapeutic technique Creative Arts for Processing Emotions (CAPE) and its usefulness in pregnancy and in families with new babies. Dr Ramya’s motivating talk threw light on the innovative concept of integrating Neuroscience and the Creative Arts through CAPE, a self-guided technique pioneered by her and acclaimed on a global platform. CAPE has supported resilience, emotional health and self-esteem in many women, children and families over the past three years.
Dr Ramya spoke of her rich experiences, working in the diverse areas of psychiatry, music and art across the East and the West to support brains better. Clad in traditional sari, Dr Ramya eloquently spoke as a global citizen on West/East perspectives, shared statistics and insights relevant to mental illness and opened a conversation on future directions. Her unique perspectives as a clinician and musician working across cultures and her pride at her dual British Indian heritage evoked an enthusiastic response from an informed audience.
The talk was followed by a question and answer session with the receptive audience, a mix of UK parliamentarians, policy-makers, change makers, healthcare staff and mental health advocates/campaigners.
Tim Loughton, one of the three sponsoring MPs, discussed the need to involve stakeholders in conversations and initiatives around mental health. He spoke of the need for investment and initiatives around early childhood development. Loughton stressed the importance of early intervention services, supporting new parents and young people’s emotional health. “Investment in society and the well-being of our children and their parents is the best investment ever. Ease of access to mental health is a global issue,” Loughton added.
MPs from across the UK were present at the event – Helen Whateley (Chair of the All Parliamentary group for Mental Health), Richard Harrington and Luciana Berger spoke on the occasion and contributed to the conversation around mental health awareness in women, children and families. Mothers, fathers, families and service users shared their personal experiences, questions and thoughts with the MPs (along with other leading experts across spheres as diverse as Obstetrics, Midwifery, Writing, Life coaching/Mentoring) in this high profile international event. There was a lively dialogue around case studies, myths, facts and realities surrounding mental health conditions during pregnancy. Richard Harrington MP (MP For Watford and Watford General Hospital), Tim Loughton MP (MP for East Worthing and Shoreham), and Norman Lamb MP (MP for North Norfolk) sponsored the event.