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Perinatal mental health has been catapulted into the mainstream, and it is in no small part thanks to the efforts of Dr Ladd.
The GP colleague who nominated her called her a ‘tireless campaigner’ for an issue that was long neglected. More than one in 10 women develops a mental health illness during pregnancy or within the first year of giving birth. Yet diagnosis rates remain poor.
But as the RCGP’s clinical fellow for perinatal mental health, Dr Ladd has campaigned tirelessly around the issue for the past two years, using social media to connect clinicians with news and services that improve outcomes for patients going through mental health crises during pregnancy and after birth, hosting organised Twitter events and a monthly GP-focused journal club.
In July 2016, she launched an online toolkit for GPs that assembles trusted resources for perinatal mental health and related topics: managing suicide risk, safeguarding, intimate partner violence, and support for health professionals personally affected. The toolkit had around 33,000 views within three months of launch.
‘Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from GPs, other healthcare professionals and women directly affected,’ Dr Ladd says. ‘It is a great example of how digital technology can improve how GPs work and maximise the positive impact they can have on patients’ health and wellbeing, even within the challenging climate of general practice we work in today.’
And she has raised the wider profile of the issue. Dr Ladd’s highlights of the year were having an article published on the Guardian’s website, and speaking to hundreds of GPs at the Pulse Live conference in London. She has also successfully campaigned for perinatal mental health to become a year-long ‘Spotlight Project’ at the RCGP.
Dr Ladd attributes her success to the mentorship of her predecessor in the role, Dr Judy Shakespeare, who shared her experience of the college, and of building relationships with government, key healthcare bodies and the media: ‘I feel I’ve been her apprentice. She has steered, encouraged and supported me, and I would not have achieved nearly so much without her wise words and thoughtful advice.’
What others say ‘Dr Ladd is a dedicated GP working with RCGP to raise awareness of, and education in, perinatal mental health. A tireless campaigner on Twitter and at conferences: she is a real GP star’