We are deeply saddened by the passing of Liz Mills. She was a mentor and pioneer who founded the Post Natal Depression Support Association in South Africa and shifted the perceptions of women's emotional wellness during their journey of motherhood.
About 20 years ago Liz had the vision to start an NGO that would be dedicated to the needs of women experiencing depression associated with the birth of a child. She followed through with this inspiration – and the Post-Natal Depression Support Association or PNDSA was established. Its purpose was to provide information, support for mothers, individual counselling (including telephonic counselling) and general support for women suffering from postnatal depression. Later its mission was broadened to include women with ante-natal depression.
Liz brought to this organisation her unique energy, empathy, and creativity. She worked together with the indispensable assistance and backing of a dedicated group of people, which included both women who had suffered from postnatal depression and knowledgeable professionals.
From small beginnings, PNDSA grew, and over time it helped, directly or indirectly, hundreds of women right across the country. For many of these women, Liz became a second mother and assisted them and their families through a very difficult period in their lives.
Over time Liz became internationally renowned in PND circles, and she was invited to deliver lectures at international conferences – which she undertook, despite her fear of public speaking. She also organised the first Post Natal Depression conference. It proved to be a great success and led to similar supportive initiatives being launched which reached thousands in all communities.
Liz was instrumental in raising awareness about PND among both women and health care professionals, and thanks to her, thousands of South African women have learned about depression during pregnancy and postnatally and have been able to seek treatment. She will be deeply missed.
Her legacy will live on forever through the many women and families whose lives she touched. (Adapted from Hilary Rosenthal’s tribute to Liz at the memorial service on 9 August 17)