Rosey Adams, founder of PND and Me

Mental health issues, low self-esteem and social isolation are the most common needs identified by health visitors when they refer families to Home-Start UK and when families refer themselves.

Acknowledgement and reaching out for help is often the greatest and most difficult step.

I suffered from antenatal and postnatal depression (PND) with each of my three children and now help other parents to connect, support and empower each other to overcome maternal mental Illness.

Because of my experiences, I founded PND and Me in 2014. It is an online peer support network on Twitter for those, like me, who can feel isolated from the world.

Social media, by its very nature, is emerging as a navigable and powerful channel of online support for people to share experiences safely, to pause and have their feelings validated in a comfortable and meaningful way.

PND and isolation often come hand in hand. PND has a way of making you feel isolated even when you’re in a room full of people, especially other mums, because you can’t help but feel you are the only one not coping but here’s the thing; you are not alone.

When I was in the depths of PND I felt completely alone. I thought it was just me who wasn’t coping, that I didn’t deserve my baby girl and sometimes I thought that she would be better off without me. I know now that she needed me and it was PND that made me feel that way. The little voice in your head that can say “You are worthless”? Ignore it. Sufferers need to hear that they are worth so much and can get better. It takes time and help, from professionals (crucial!) but peer support can also play an important part in recovery.

PND and Me is very easy to find on a Wednesday evening, carrying the hashtag #PNDHour on Twitter. Each week, we discuss a different theme and we are not limited to just PND. We also chat about antenatal depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, postnatal psychosis and other areas of mental health.

It is a both a conversation thread and a communion of ideas and opinions where there is a relationship of trust and non-judgemental support. Like the Home-Start visit, the devotion of time to share and acknowledge our feelings, can be empowering and a step towards self-understanding, management and confidence.

It’s there to reassure you that things can get better and that while you are walking the sometimes dark and cloudy road of recovery, you are never alone and there will always be someone around to listen, so that you can share.

The Twitter hour affords us that ‘room full of people’ who know where you are coming from whilst completely preserving privacy. But with the benefit of anonymity, if you choose it, there’s still kinship from mums – and increasingly dads – who through similar experiences, can share insights, gently encourage engagement and challenge those feelings of desolation and loneliness.

Just as mental health charity Sane is transforming common perceptions about conversations around mental health via its text support facility and Black Dog Tribe’s forums, blogs, daily news and resources, PND and Me is part of a whole new online world for remote access to support and to having your own voice.

With around one-in-seven women experiencing PND, the chances are there are women you know who are also battling or have come out the other side from their depression. Sometimes connecting with these others mums is difficult simply because we aren’t always open about mental illness for fear of being seen as a failure or a “bad mum”.

It’s simple to join in: you just need to set up a Twitter account that can be anonymous and temporary, giving you valuable privacy if you are worried about being ‘found out’. Find and follow #PNDHour and you’ll be able to follow the tweets from different contributors who share their thoughts.

We have women from all walks of life. The best thing about #PNDHour is that no matter who you are, what your experience, you will be welcomed with open arms into our safe, non-judgmental community. You don’t have to contribute if you don’t want to; you can simply read and be reminded that you are not alone in how you feel and that there is hope.

Reaching out to someone takes courage including seeing your doctor which is a must. But if you feel that you are struggling, the decision to seek help for PND by being open to hearing others’ stories and hopefully starting to share your own will be one of the bravest, positive things that you can do.

A weekly Twitter chat using the hashtag #PNDHour, PND and Me is held every Wednesday from 8pm to 9pm that links up mums from across the UK who are suffering from or have recovered from PND.

Rosey Adams is 2016 MIND Blogger of the Year and founder of PND and Me and mum to three children Kimberley 8, Connor 6, and Harvey 4