Swapping the court room for a career in NHS mental health nursing - The Solihull Observer

Swapping the court room for a career in NHS mental health nursing

Solihull Editorial 31st Oct, 2023   0

A MENTAL health nurse has shared her story of swapping careers to help other mums struggling with their mental health following her own battle with postnatal depression.

Leanne Howlett worked in wills and probate law for six years before she became pregnant for the first time.

By her own admission life was good, she had lots of hobbies, ran the London marathon and was very outgoing with lots of good friends who had mostly all had children the year or so before she did.

Leanne said: “The first time I experienced postnatal depression was after my eldest was born.

“Looking back, it was really hard because I had no prior experience of mental illness at all and no understanding of how the services worked.

“I felt really scared of asking for help as it was all so unknown to me and I didn’t really understand myself how I felt, so I found the idea of putting it into words quite difficult.

“Initially I found a lot of the terms such as ‘psychiatrist’ and ‘community psychiatric nurse’ really intimidating.”

First time round Leanne recovered and remained well for around two years until she fell pregnant again with my second child.

Second time round Leanne was referred for support to pre-empt any potential illness quite early on in pregnancy but she says she found it harder to do what she needed to do to help herself.

She said: ” I had an amazing nurse who looked after me from the perinatal team, she worked hard to tailor her care to what suited me best.

“She always told me she was holding the hope for me that I would get better until I could hold it myself and I never forgot that when I was recovering.

“Now I look forward to being able to hold that hope for other mums.”

Following this Leanne studied to become a mental health nurse and landed a newly qualified role at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust’s (BSMHFT) Mother and Baby Unit located at The Barberry.

She said: “If I could say one thing to someone going through a similar experience to what I did, I would encourage them to share how you feel.

“Reaching out for help is the hardest step, but once you’ve done that, just accept what the professionals say and let them help you.

“Recovery is possible with time, I’m living proof of that and afterwards you will be stronger than you were before for going through it.

“Some of the strongest mums I know are those who have struggled with a mental illness at a time when society expected them to be at their happiest… and raising a baby at the same time.”


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