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Mental Health Awareness Week - peer support worker talks about her psychosis diagnosis

A mum who experienced psychosis during her pregnancy and after giving birth is now working alongside the staff who gave her “incredible” care to help other parents experiencing mental health challenges.

Laura Maguire’s diagnosis was a shock to her and her family because she had never experienced mental health issues until she became pregnant in 2021.

The psychosis was brought on by hormonal changes during pregnancy, a recent death of a close family member and intense stress at work.

She received care for nearly two years from Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust’s (EPUT) Rainbow Mother and Baby Unit in Chelmsford and community Perinatal Mental Health Service.

Laura said: “My psychosis diagnosis came completely out of the blue, which was quite scary as I hadn’t had any pre-existing mental health conditions.

“I suffered a collapse at work early on in my pregnancy and became quite unwell mentally.

“I was looked after by the perinatal team shortly after my collapse. They are such amazing people and they went above and beyond to keep an eye on me and check up on me throughout my time under EPUT’s care.

“It was a scary time for me. I lost my speech and confidence but Helen and the team were incredible and helped me every step of the way.

“Helen in particular was amazing. She remained in contact with me, even when I was placed in the care outside of EPUT, which made the whole situation so much better.”

She was cared for by the community Perinatal Mental Health Service until her daughter was over a year old.

Helen, who became Laura’s care co-ordinator after her daughter was born, and her colleagues helped Laura rebuild her confidence. A nursery nurse also visited her at home and met her daughter.

Laura said: “It’s funny how being unwell knocks your confidence so much. It was such a big help having that support.

“Helen in particular believed in me and encouraged me to help others by becoming a lived experience ambassador, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

“It felt good to be able to help other new mums and mums-to-be and empathise and sympathise with them because I had first-hand experience and am able to show that recovery is possible.”

Laura is now working as a perinatal peer support worker four days a week for Parents 1st Essex, a charity commissioned by EPUT to run the peer support programme.

She added: “It’s such a rewarding job and every day is different. It’s just so good to be able to give something back and help make a difference to parents and families like Helen did for me.”


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