Louis Theroux has just announced the subject of his next BBC2 documentary special: postpartum mental illness.
Called Mothers on the Edge, the documentary will see Theroux spending time in two UK specialist psychiatric units which treat women experiencing serious mental illness while allowing them to live alongside their babies.
On these wards, he meets a number of women contending with a range of issues – including depression, anxiety and psychosis – that can be triggered by birth or the difficulties of motherhood.
In the one-off hour-long documentary, Theroux will also follow patients recovering at home, learning about what caused their condition and the challenges of recovery.
In the UK it is estimated that one in 10 new mothers will suffer a mental health issue before their child’s first birthday – many for the first time in their lives.
“Postpartum mental illness, like many aspects of mental health, is all too common and not acknowledged enough,” Theroux said.
“We as a society do so much to celebrate new motherhood and to romanticise the relationship between new mothers and their babies, for understandable reasons. But the sad fact is, for many mums, their experience of having a baby is traumatic and they don’t experience Hallmark Card feelings of love.”
He added: “The women we featured in this film took a huge leap of faith in opening up and speaking to me. They bared a great deal of their souls and risked the judgement of less understanding elements of society. Their bravery and candour is awe-inspiring, and it was a privilege to be invited into their families during a most vulnerable period in their lives.
“I hope this film will go some way to helping normalise postpartum mental illness and stimulate a discussion on how we can best care for mothers at the time they need it the most.”
Update – Louis Theroux: Mothers on the Edge will air on BBC2 on Sunday 12 May at 9pm on BBC2