Mum’s battles for new mums wins her an MBE

By Sarah Curran

A MOTHER who used her own personal experiences to campaign for better perinatal mental health services has been awarded an MBE.

Lindsay Robinson said she felt ‘emotional’ when she discovered she was being awarded a MBE for services to perinatal mental health in Northern Ireland.

The 42 year-old, who lives in Dundonald with her husband, East Belfast MP and DUP leader Gavin Robinson, began campaigning for better perinatal mental health services for mothers in Northern Ireland after she became aware how lacking the services were following the birth of her son Reuben in 2013.

In 2021, following years of campaigning alongside fellow mums, health professionals, voluntary organisations and Royal Colleges, Lindsay was delighted when Robin Swann, the then Health Minister, announced funding for the development of new specialist perinatal mental health services for Northern Ireland.

Lindsay said she was in disbelief when she discovered she had been named on the King’s Birthday Honours list.

Lindsay, originally from Portstewart, said: “I found myself quite emotional and I still feel a bit emotional to be honest because obviously it was for a piece of work that was very difficult and painful in our lives.

“Now that I have had some time to think about it is just lovely that this has come out of it but it was a reminder of more difficult times.”

Lindsay explained how she became mentally ill while pregnant with her son Reuben, noting her ‘difficult and stressful pregnancy’ which included concerns about her unborn son’s wellbeing and health.

She said: “At the time I didn’t realise that. I just thought I was stressed and worried about what we were going through but actually that was the start of my mental health starting to deteriorate.

“When Reuben was born it went downhill from there to the point where just before I got treatment I spent a good few months feeling suicidal most days.”

Lindsay battled a long and hard road to recovery with the help of support and various treatments but as she looked into her own situation she realised there was not enough awareness around issues of perinatal, antenatal and postnatal mental health.

The brave mother began campaigning at Westminster and Stormont, alongside other mums and healthcare professionals, calling for specialist perinatal mental health services across all five health trusts.

Delighted with the outcome of the hard fought campaign, including her own movement ‘Have you seen that girl?’, Lindsay said it was great to see something so important rise from ‘something very painful’.

She said: “As I look back now at photos of that time, of course there are lovely memories because he is our little boy, but I look at myself and I see a ghost of a person. I was so unbelievably unwell and it took me time to realise I was unwell.

“There were some wonderful health care professionals who, when I needed it, really did step in and support me and journey me back to wellness to the point I am at now.”

She added: “It is a joy and thrill to know other mums can have access to services they need just as I needed at that time.”

Thanking all those who got behind her campaign and movement, Lindsay said: “We all worked together. This wouldn’t be possible if we all didn’t set our minds to the same goal and without that I wouldn’t be where I am today.”