Sally Hogg is Strategic Lead at Mums And Babies In Mind, a UK project that supports local leaders to improve care and quality of life for mums with mental health problems during the perinatal period, and their babies. The project works to inform and inspire those who commission and provide related services across the UK.
I lead the Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s Mums and Babies in Mind Project (MABIM). We support local leaders to improve care for mums with perinatal mental health problems and their babies. We work with four areas of England, specifically, but we capture and share the work we do to inform and inspire decision makers and service providers right across the UK.
By the end of the project, there will be an interactive resources hub on the MMHA website, enabling professionals to find resources that help them with particular issues they are trying to address.
In addition to running Mums and Babies in Mind (which I do 2.5 days a week), I am a mum to two boys, aged 18 months and 3-and-a-half years. I also do some freelance work and have a range of volunteering roles, including NCT Branch Coordinator in my town, representing women’s voices at my local hospital, and for the Royal College of Obstetrics and Child Health, and writing a column for a journal.
I am often asked why I do what I do, and here are some of my answers.
We run the Mums and Babies in Mind Project because we recognise that there are many passionate, fantastic people across local services who are trying to do more for mums with mental illness and their babies. This isn’t always easy, and they can feel quite isolated. We want to connect them, support them, and to help them achieve more.
My interest in perinatal mental illness started seven years ago when I was working at the NSPCC, leading services for families during pregnancy and the first year of their child’s life. We could see what a big issue perinatal mental illness was, the pervasive and long-term impact it could have on families, and the lack of services available to tackle it. At that stage, I wrote the ‘Prevention in Mind’ report to campaign for change, and joined the Maternal Mental Health Alliance as NSPCC representative and, later, Vice Chair.
I came to this issue after years working in children’s policy and service delivery. I strongly believe that if we want to change the world for the better, then getting things right for children is the best place to start. And the most important people in children’s lives are their parents. I studied psychology at university and later did a Masters in developmental sciences, so I know how important early experiences are to children’s development. But I also passionately believe that every child should have a good childhood. This would matter, even if it didn’t influence their later outcomes.
In recent years, a few good friends of mine have been affected by perinatal mental illness. One of my friends is in a Mother and Baby Unit now. These are such horrible illnesses, which rob women and families of an important time in their life. Their stories inspire me every day.
Now that I’m a mum myself, I understand how hard early parenthood can be. It takes a village to raise a child – mums and dads need so much practical and emotional support from our families, communities and professionals.
I jumped at the chance to run the MABIM project when it came up. It’s great to be part of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance – so many organisations who are working together, speaking with one voice, and harnessing huge power to make a difference to women.
Alain Gregoire and Chris Cuthbert were both involved in MABIM from the beginning and approached me to take on the lead role. I had worked with them both before and they are great people to work with. It’s good – and rare – to have leaders who set out a clear vision to work towards, really know their stuff, and work hard with you to get the job done (and they are lovely people too).
Working part-time on MABIM allows me to spend plenty of time with my boys. This is really important to me. I want to be closely involved in their lives and have quality time with them. Parenting isn’t always easy, but on summer days when I’m outside having fun with them I feel incredibly lucky.
I really enjoy being able to take on freelance and volunteering work. I am guilty of signing up to far too much, but I struggle not to take things on when I’m passionate about a cause and can see action that needs to happen.
To learn more about Sally and the Mother And Babies In Mind project, visit the Maternal Mental Health Alliance website.
A bit about Moment Health…
Moment Health is a technology company that aims to prioritise Maternal Mental Health and provide new parents with the tools and knowledge they need to sustain good mental wellbeing – from pregnancy through to parenthood.
The Moment Health app has been developed with clinicians and healthcare professionals. It screens for perinatal, postnatal and associated anxieties, and includes additional features such as a helpful guide to practical and accessible coping strategies.
At Moment Health, our mission is to make maternal mental health mainstream #MakeItMainstream.
Download our App today