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Developing a Psychological Model of Recovery from Postpartum Psychosis

   Norwich Medical School

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  Dr J Hodgekins  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Postpartum psychosis (PP) is a severe but treatable form of mental illness that can happen to women after having a baby. PP affects approximately 2 mothers per 1000 deliveries and occurs very rapidly in the days or weeks following birth. Research suggests that whilst the most severe symptoms of PP can remit in 2-12 weeks, functional recovery may take longer, with 30% of women reporting difficulties with psychosocial functioning 12 years post-episode. Mothers may experience depression, anxiety and reduced confidence. Current treatment for PP is mainly pharmacological and often involves an inpatient admission in a specialist mother and baby unit. However, there is a need for further development of psychological interventions to support longer-term recovery.


This innovative and exciting project aims to use mixed methods to further understand the process of recovery following an episode of PP from a range of different perspectives. This will help to inform the development a psychological model of PP and tailored interventions.

A comprehensive package of training will be agreed and delivered by the supervisors along with collaborators at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Training opportunities include:

·        A mental health clinical research placement at NSFT providing an opportunity to learn about the ethical and practical delivery of mental health research

·        A clinical placement in a Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service to provide a real-life understanding of clinical care and service delivery

Person specification

Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree in Psychology or similar, and excellent interpersonal skills. Experience of working with vulnerable groups, families or babies, particularly in clinical settings, is desirable. This PhD would particularly suit someone with an interest in a clinical academic career. An enhanced DBS check is needed to pursue this project.

Applications must be made to both UEA (for the PhD) and SeNSS (for the funding).

Funding Notes

This project has been selected for funding by the SeNSS ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership. The studentship may be either a 1+3 year award (a one-year Master’s degree followed by a three-year PhD), or a +3 award (a three-year PhD).
The studentship award covers your university fees, and provides a stipend at UKRI rates (£15,609 for 2021/22). You will also be able to apply for additional funding via the SeNSS Research Training Support Grant; further funds are available to students with disabilities through Disabled Students’ Allowance.
Unfortunately, no additional funds are available to assist with visa or other relocation costs.


i) Forde, R., Peters, S., & Wittkowski, A. (2020). Recovery from postpartum psychosis: a systematic review and metasynthesis of women’s and families’ experiences. Archives of Women's Mental Health, 23(5), 597-612.
ii) Fowler, D., Hodgekins, J., & French, P. (2019). Social Recovery Therapy in improving activity and social outcomes in early psychosis: Current evidence and longer term outcomes. Schizophrenia Research, 203, 99-104.
iii) Gilden, J., Kamperman, A., Munk-Olsen, T., Hoogendijk, W., Kushner, S., & Bergink, V. (2020). Long-Term Outcomes of Postpartum Psychosis. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 81(2).

iv) Howard, L., & Khalifeh, H. (2020). Perinatal mental health: a review of progress and challenges. World Psychiatry, 19(3), 313-327.
iv) NICE Guidance. (2020). Antenatal and postnatal mental health: clinical management and service guidance [CG192].
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