Trustee Chineye Njoku joined Our Time founder Dr Alan Cooklin in London and Manchester this month to run a perinatal masterclass organised by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. She reflects on the event and its success.
It was a privilege to have been part of the speakers, along with Dr Alan Cooklin at the perinatal masterclass organised by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. My presentation was focused on using my personal and professional experience of parental mental illness to make some recommendations to trainee perinatal psychiatrists.
Parental mental illness can have an adverse impact and, in some cases, affect the safety of a child – but the children are often not seen or heard. It is therefore important that the practitioners involved utilise a whole family approach. Those working directly with the parents can provide support tailored to the needs of the family by keeping the welfare of the children in focus. I emphasised the importance of the practitioners interacting with the children concerned whenever the opportunity arises. Whilst children are hardwired for struggle and discomfort, they need healthy adults to help them build resilience. The practitioners can work in partnership with the families to build resilience and recognise their capabilities.
I also touched on some of the strengths of the KidsTime Workshops, which focus on providing a supportive environment for families affected by parental mental illness, and how the trainees can utilise some of the aspects of the service in their own practice. Working in the field of mental health comes with some opportunities and many constraints, it is therefore important that we maximise any opportunity we have to truly make a difference, no matter how small.