Yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of speaking at an event in Parliament highlighting the importance of funding mental health research.
MQ is the first major charity that is championing, and funding, much-needed scientific research to transform the lives of everyone affected by mental illness, and last night they brought together academics, politicians and celebrities to celebrate the government’s policy of parity of esteem between physical and mental health, and to set out what they are doing to lean into that.
In particular, I welcomed the chance to talk with Georgia ‘Toff’ Toffolo about her own experiences with mental illness, and how she had overcome her struggles. It is hugely important for young people to see and hear their social influencers talking about mental health.
Mental health is a cause very close to my own heart and it affected me very personally. When my eldest son was born in 1995 I suffered postnatal depression. You can’t imagine until you have suffered poor mental health just how awful it makes you feel and how helpless. It’s a very real, incredibly debilitating experience for far too many women when they’ve had a child.
I overcame it with the help of my supportive husband, my family and by going back to work as a Barclays senior executive. But there are many others who take a very long time to recover from postnatal depression or who never get over it at all. The first 1,001 days of a baby’s life – the period from conception to the age of two – are critical.
So I was pleased to have the opportunity to talk about my own experiences and journey from postnatal depression, the importance of preventing mental illness in the earliest years by giving every baby the best possible start in life and providing new parents with the skills and support to securely bond with their child, and to welcome the work the MQ is doing in this important area.