Extending maternity leave: Letter to local media - Happity Blog

Extending maternity leave: Letter to local media

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Subject: Women and children are not a luxury

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am supporting a campaign, called #MaternityPetition that is looking to extend maternity leave due to Covid-19. The campaign is supporting families right now to have more certainty for their future.

I am supporting this campaign because {insert why you are supporting and share a paragraph of your story}.

My mental health has deteriorated over the lockdown period. And as Dr Alain Gregoire highlighted in the second House Of Commons Petitions Committee, having a parent struggling with mental health is detrimental to a babies development. Ours is the first generation where legislation can be changed to reflect the evidence we have on how important early years are.

For my babies sake, I am fighting for the Government to give us back the time we have lost to enable proper bonding with a parent not struggling mentally, and with wider family. Give us back the time to enable our babies to develop. Give us back the time so that we can fix ourselves mentally before returning to work.

Perinatal mental health costs the UK economy £8.1bn per year per cohort of births. This is pre-Covid. What will this figure be for this year of births? And only 30% of this figure relates to helping parents; 70% is due to having to support the children of parents who have struggled throughout their life, attributed to Health & Social Care, Education, Criminal Justice, QALY (Quality-Adjusted Life-Year) losses, and Productivity Losses.

Emily Tredget, co-founder of Happity.co.uk a parent-led platform which helps parents to connect primarily through baby & toddler classes to maintain mental wellness, says,

“I struggled with Post-Natal Depression for years and I am really concerned for the mental wellbeing of parents at this time. Nearly 80% of parents surveyed said their mental health was deteriorating, with some saying they couldn’t continue like this for much longer. We are at the stage of parents reporting our interactive classes to be great because “it is nice to have somebody acknowledge my presense”. This really worries me, especially as the impact of having unwell parents on children can last for a lifetime.”

You can find more information on how Covid-19 is impacting parents, through 2 papers submitted as part of the Petitions Committee sessions here and here (both including pertinent stats, the latter with them pulled out at the top of the document).

Waiting lists for mental health help are often more than 6 months. I cannot wait for mental health support until after I return to work. Returning to work is a huge transition in a parents life, often requiring mental health support. And to face returning to work now – not having viewed nurseries, my baby not having seen other humans in the flesh for months, not to mention the fact that there is much less provision of nurseries, but much higher demand due to lack of grandparent support at this time.

I am having to choose between returning to work and leaving my baby in an unknown setting which will cause them undue stress. Or leaving my job.

Not to mention the fact that parents are being discriminated again as easy targets to make redundant. Many parents can’t work to their full capacity right now as they are also looking after potentially multiple children. So they are the obvious group to cut. We therefore need to remain on maternity leave so as not to be discriminated against.

And due to these financial uncertainties – of higher childcare costs if I return as my wider family can’t help, or lower income if I have to resign, I cannot be investing at the moment in either my mental wellbeing, or my childs development.

If I knew I had more financial stability for the future I would be attending proper, interactive baby classes which are known to be better for parents mental health, and great for children as they can be encouraged by name and start to recognise others. But instead I am having to make do with free options which have no interaction. These are not beneficial for our mental health.

I am more than happy to provide more information on my situation for an article, and would appreciate you helping to get this mum-on-maternity-leave’s voice heard.

Women and children might seem a luxury to invest in like this given the challenges our economy and services face. But enabling this major section of society to function effectively will have a major wider effect on society, the economy, and services more widely than just the narrow experience of mums and babies in the short term.

I can be contacted on {insert email and mobile}, and Emily from Happity can be contacted on [email protected] or 07725516615.

Yours faithfull,

{insert name}

Mum of one, co-founder of Happity, mental health advocate

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