The Truth – NEW Campaign
The Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE) is devoted to providing support and reducing the impacts of emotional and mental health problems in the pre and postnatal periods.
#thetruth campaign series has been created to raise awareness and help improve the lives of the many thousands of families currently affected by unexpected challenges on the path to parenthood. As identified in the research undertaken to inform the campaign, these experiences can be debilitating, often devastating and are rarely talked about.
The campaign has been designed to expose these hidden truths and provide hopeful, expectant and new parents with honest and clear information to help them access timely support.
#thetruth focuses on five key stages:
- Perinatal loss
- Early parenthood
The overall campaign profiles these five stages, and within each, there are topics that explore each stage in more detail.
Stage 1: Preconception
The truth is many people experience mental health challenges while trying to have a baby. Infertility can affect every part of your life. The experience of trying to get pregnant can be all-consuming, it can change your work life, your family life and put stress on friendships and relationships.
“The truth is infertility is an emotional and physical rollercoaster that never ends” – Melinda
The research underpinning the campaign highlighted the emotional and mental health challenges experienced when faced with infertility. People described feelings of frustration and disappointment, anger, jealousy and/or feeling resentful towards others who were able to become pregnant more quickly, effortlessly or accidentally. People in this situation found themselves feeling that no one understood what they were are going through, leaving them feeling very alone. Experiencing anxiety and depression throughout the journey of infertility and beyond was a common theme.
Under this preconception stage, the campaign focuses on the emotional and mental impacts of two specific topic areas – infertility and coming to terms with not being able to have children (known as childlessness).
Stage one of #thetruth campaign reminds those struggling with infertility that they are not alone, and that COPE provides quality information and referral pathways to support them.
Stage 2: Perinatal loss
The truth is the loss of a baby is common, however often it is not spoken about openly leaving individuals and couples grieving alone without understanding or support from others. This stage of the campaign exposes the consuming grief, sadness, mixed feelings and anger people describe feeling after losing a baby. It highlights the fact that many people continue to carry the grief inside them long after their loss.
“The truth is when you are going through something so deep and so dark it’s very difficult” – Renata
Often the emotions experienced after losing a baby are minimised or not well understood by family, friends or even health professionals. This makes it even more difficult to process and make sense of their feelings.
This stage of the campaign reminds people that they are not alone and that COPE is here to provide honest and clear information to direct grieving parents to support after losing a baby to miscarriage or a stillbirth.
Stage 3: Pregnancy
The truth is more than one in five women experience mental health challenges while pregnant. The research highlighted that whilst many mothers hold idealised images of what their pregnancy might look like (thanks mostly to magazines and social media), the reality is that it can be very different in real life.
“The truth is I could just see the other mums that they look fine and you’re just struggling every single day” – Jade
Many people struggle physically and emotionally throughout their pregnancies. Anxiety and worry can be all-consuming and replace the feelings of excitement and joy. These feelings are more common than realised, as they are not spoken about openly.
This stage of the campaign highlights various challenges that were identified as having an impact on emotional and mental health in pregnancy. These topics include coping with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG; severe morning sickness), body image issues, family violence, the impacts of past trauma and anxiety and depression.
For each topic the campaign message directs people to further information and support during pregnancy.
Stage 4: Birth
The truth is that unfortunately childbirth doesn’t always go to plan.
Many parents are left feeling depleted, disappointed and experience mental health challenges after a difficult birth experience. For many couples, birth results in ongoing trauma and in some cases can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. Whilst sometimes the trauma is related to the outcomes of the birth itself, the research also highlighted how this was often exacerbated by the treatment from health professionals and the healthcare system.
“The truth is the birth didn’t go to plan, I felt violated and betrayed” – Melissa
Many people who have experienced birth trauma simply choose to never talk about it because it is distressing to relive the painful memories and their experiences were often minimised or ignored. This stage of the campaign serves to help new parents identify birth trauma, and encourage them to seek support and treatment following a traumatic birth.
Stage 5: Early parenthood
Many unexpected challenges come with being a new parent. Without experience to fall back on many new parents feel like they are struggling and worry that they aren’t up to the challenge. Pressure to be seen as coping and managing it all prevents many parents from speaking openly about their struggles and seeking help early. Not talking and acknowledging problems is leading to new parents feeling isolated and shut out to the reality of life with a new baby.
“The truth is there is shame tied up with women being really brutally honest about what parenthood and motherhood is like” – Nami
This stage of the campaign profiles a number of specific challenges that were identified in early parenthood in the research. This includes the challenges in relationships, coping with loneliness, and providing education and insight into intrusive thoughts and feelings of rage that can occur in the postnatal period.
This is one of the first campaigns to specifically profile the very severe illness of postpartum psychosis. It also addresses the topic of shame and stigma which is known to prevent help-seeking in the perinatal period. Finally, with the campaign following the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign also provides messages of acknowledgement regarding the potential impacts of having a baby during a pandemic.
The campaign will be disseminated via digital channels in line with the audience’s uptake of information. Information and education will be communicated to health professionals providing antenatal and postnatal care, as well as workplaces. Additional resources will also be provided across healthcare, workplace and community settings.
The design and structure of #thetruth campaign strategy allows for different topics to be added to the campaign infrastructure over time. Outcomes of the campaign will continue to be monitored, refined and evaluated over the 12 month campaign period.
For more information about the campaign, or to order resources, please contact the COPE team at firstname.lastname@example.org