Meet the founder of the Perinatal Mental health partnership

Eve Canavan BEM

Having suffered from postpartum psychosis 13 years ago after the birth of her son, Eve now does extensive voluntary work to support maternal mental health.

“By the time Joe was three days old, I had decided I didn’t want him. Even worse, I felt trapped by his very presence. The reality that I was now a mum forever hit me in a catastrophic way. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of blue congratulation cards and would wake up feeling smothered. The terror of anxiety when I opened my eyes in the morning time is still a feeling that was so intense that I struggle to describe it.” Mumconfidential

Getting help proved difficult, with Eve being diagnosed as ‘just tired’ and sent home. It took six weeks before she was eventually admitted to a psychiatric mother and baby unit. This experience propelled Eve to found the Perinatal Mental health partnership, an organisation comprised of national charities and individuals with lived experience of mental illness after the birth of a child and is the founder of national coordinator of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.

Now in its 8th year, it has been a trail blazer, inspiring similar weeks around the world. The 2023 Awareness Week was a global event supported by the Catherine, Princess of Wales.

Millions of women and families receive support during the Week and Eve runs it in her own time creating an incredible international footprint.

Eve is a media volunteer for the charities Action on Postpartum Psychosis and Mind and worked with the BBC soap Eastenders, where a postpartum psychosis storyline was based on her experience. Eve worked extensively with the scriptwriters, researchers and actors to ensure the presentation of the illness was realistic and non stigmatising. Eve’s work contributed to a ‘real life Stacey’s campaign’ named after the character affected in the soap, which was launched to raise money for charities supporting women and their families going through a similar experience ‘.

Eve works with the Royal College of GPs and helped to support the development of a GP Perinatal Mental Health Toolkit to ensure doctors can diagnosis and support women effectively. 

Eve also provides peer support to those who are unwell, working with health care providers across the UK to ensure women are able to access mental health services as and when needed.

She is the UK representative for Postpartum Support International and is the pioneer who has brought perinatal mental illness to the international attention it receives. She is rightly seen as the trailblazer of highlighting the need for support for women while pregnant and after having children and we owe her so much.

Eve will be sharing her story at the 2024 Inspiring Women Awards Lunch.