Film-maker Louis Theroux explores anxiety of motherhood at Mother & Baby unit at Bethlem Hospital

Film-maker Louis Theroux has spent time on the Mother and Baby Unit at Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham, filming a documentary which follows four mothers who have developed serious mental illnesses such as psychosis, following the birth of their baby.

In the documentary, called Louis Theroux: Mothers On The Edge, Louis Theroux explores what lies behind the mothers’ recent crisis and discovers how staff on the unit care for vulnerable people.

The Mother and Baby Unit is part of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. Mothers on the unit are admitted with their babies and supported by psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, nursery nurses, midwives and other professionals.

Treatment can include therapies such as psychotherapy, as well as medication.

Dr Gertrude Seneviratne, Lead of the Perinatal Mental Health Services at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Consultant in General Adult and Perinatal Psychiatry and Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Perinatal Faculty, said: “I want to say thank you to the women and their families who have taken part in the documentary, their contribution helps to shed light on these important issues and reduce stigma around perinatal mental health.

“The arrival of a baby should be the happiest time in a woman’s life, but for some women this is not the case – our research shows that one in four women experience mental health problems during pregnancy or shortly after the baby is born.”

Deborah Griffin, clinical service lead on the Mother and Baby Unit said: “The crew were with us through some very challenging times and were extremely supportive to the team and the mums on the ward.

“The documentary is sensitively made and gives a rare, compassionate but enquiring insight into the world of perinatal mental health, the complexity of the difficulties that the women admitted to us are experiencing and highlights the impact of social media on the pressure women experience to be the perfect mother when they are struggling to manage.

“It also gives a message of hope, as we see our mums get better and return home with their babies.”

See Louis Theroux: Mothers On The Edge, on May 12 on BBC Two at 9pm.

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