When Tanya-Jane Cox’s friend went into labour while her husband was away, she found herself called into action to support her.
And it was an experience that changed her life, as she ended up retraining as a midwife after being made redundant from her office job.
Now a specialist mental health midwife with East Kent Hospitals, Tanya doesn’t regret her change of career for a second.
She said: “My friend’s husband unexpectedly had to go away for work for one night, and of course that was when she went into labour.
“So she called me and I went and sat in a room breathing with her and thought ‘I could do that’.
“When I was made redundant I decided to use that money to fund my training.”
Tanya worked as a community and hospital midwife, and then one day was on a training course where one of the exercises was to take a personality test. The result suggested she would be a good counsellor.
Now she is a qualified counsellor and volunteers with Mind every Friday, as well as her work supporting women and colleagues.
She said: “Counselling is my passion, I am so glad I took that personality test! Being able to help women and their families is a real privilege.
“We can do so much healing through listening. Sometimes all someone needs is to talk things through and feel heard.
“It’s important that we tackle the stigma surrounding mental health. Making women feel comfortable and supported is a top priority for me.”
Together with her job-share partner, Sally Densham, Tanya works with colleagues in the Trust and external partners to ensure vulnerable women get the support they need. The pair are also always working to build their own skills.
They help train doctors and midwives in recognising and supporting parents with mental health issues, and in providing reassurance and information on where to go for help.
Tanya said: “Often women are concerned that if they speak up about how they are feeling, their baby will be taken away and that’s just not the case.
“We need to make it more normal to be able to talk about mental health problems, and to make the help and support that is out there as accessible as possible.”