Getting the support you need this Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week

Posted: 30/04/24

Pregnant woman and man standing behind her next to the words Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.

This week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week and today’s theme is moving together through your changing world.

When you have a baby your structure and routine completely changes. You have to adjust to a new way of life. Connecting with others in a similar situation can be beneficial. The Trust runs a number of groups for mothers and mothers to be who are struggling with their mental health. Often, attending a group is the first step on someone’s wellbeing journey.

Advanced clinical nurse practitioner Jan Rigby said: “Connection is important at this stage in a woman’s life. A lot of women who come to our groups say they feel lonely and can find talking about their mental health hard. There are a range of services across the region from family hubs and primary and secondary mental health services. Services can support women to attend a group. Connecting with others is often an important step. Meeting with others who may have similar experiences and feelings is often an integral part of recovery.

“The perinatal period starts from pregnancy and through the first year postnatally. However, Talking Therapies work with parents for two years after delivery. Around 27% of women experience mental health issues during this period, it’s more common than we first thought. Women can experience a range of mental health problems, from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and perinatal OCD.

“Postpartum psychosis or puerperal psychosis is rare but the likelihood of developing this illness significantly increases for women with a history of psychosis and bipolar 1 disorder. The Specialist Perinatal Community Mental Health Service offers women with a history of a psychotic illness or a longstanding diagnosis such as bipolar, care and treatment during pregnancy and following delivery, even when the mam is well. This is offered to minimise the impact of a potential relapse.

“What may be lesser known is if you have a history of experienced trauma, whether this be through the birth of a child, the loss of a pregnancy, or from your own childhood, your mental health may deteriorate. Services are here to support your mental health recovery.

“Not everyone falls in love with their baby immediately. For some women it just takes time to build the bond, and this is completely normal. For other mams, their mental health can deteriorate because of this lack of bond or because they are not well. This can be a common experience. Services specialise in helping you both recover from your mental health and building confidence in your parenting role. Supporting the relationship you have with your baby and helping you see what an amazing mam you are is part of our role too! We can find mam’s mental health improves as they feel more confident within the relationship with their baby. It’s okay to talk to a trusted health professional and seek support. This can come from Talking Therapies, VCSE projects, and Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Services. They offer a range of support both 1:1 and Group work.”

Here are a few of the groups available through CNTW services:

Meaningful Me Group

This is an evidence-based programme developed by occupational therapists in mental health services across the UK.

Sometimes poor mental health can have an impact on the ability to carry out everyday activities. The transition to parenthood can be a challenging time. This group aims to support participants to establish a balanced routine of leisure, productivity and self-care.

It focuses on meaningful and engaging activity. Women who come to the group are supported to establish a routine in a way that is manageable and meaningful for them. It is a supportive space to explore self -care, leisure and productivity, helping women create a healthy balance for you and your baby.

Mindful Mums

The Mindful Mums group focuses on a different topic each week. It is led by CNTW peer supporters who use their lived experience to support mothers who may be struggling.

Peer supporter Emma said: “Lots of mums forget about themselves and who they were before they became a mum. They can experience a loss of identity and forget that they’re important too.

“Self-care isn’t selfish. You need to prioritise your own needs as well.”

Women attending the group have described it as a safe space.

Finding Our Rhythm

This is a Perinatal Nursery Nurse-led group for women under the care of community mental health teams providing support to promote a healthy mother and baby relationship.

The therapeutic sessions aim to provide a safe and secure environment to strengthen the bond between mother and baby. Women are given the opportunity to spend quality time with their baby, helping to increase their confidence and connection. Women will often go on to attend local community groups once they feel confident to do so.

By supporting maternal confidence and mother infant relationship women tell us that they see an improvement in their mental health and general confidence.

Other support:

Royal College of Psychiatry offers up to date information  to consider  “Pregnancy, before during and after” at: Mental illnesses and mental health problems | Royal College of Psychiatrists (

Talking Therapies

Talking Therapies offer a psychoeducational class targeted towards improving emotional wellbeing during the perinatal period. Sunderland Talking Therapies offers therapies, classes and groups to help with a range of common mental health difficulties. The service is effective, confidential, and free. Please find more information at about how to refer.

Postnatal depression

Around one in 10 women experience postnatal depression after having a baby. Our self-help guide explains some of the causes of postnatal depression, ways of coping and signposting to further support.

Perinatal community mental health teams

The teams work with people who have a range of mental health problems during pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood. Many women accessing the perinatal

Beadnell Mother and Baby Unit

Based at St George’s Park in Morpeth, the unit supports women experiencing severe mental illness in pregnancy and following birth, with specialist support available to treat conditions such as severe postnatal depression and postpartum psychosis. There are overnight facilities for partners with the aim of keeping families together to support a faster recovery and better quality of life.