Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 2nd-8th May and is dedicated to talking about mental health problems during and after pregnancy.
Organised by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, the week aims to raise awareness of perinatal mental health problems, while changing attitudes and helping families access the information, care and support they need.
This year’s theme is ‘The Power of Connection’.
While welcoming a new baby into the world is a cause for celebration, it can be a difficult time for many. If you are struggling with your mental health, you are not alone. One in five women experience a perinatal mental health problem and there are a number of ways you can get support.
Talking Therapies services (also known as IAPT, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) offer a range of options to help people overcome common mental health problems like anxiety and depression. You can find your local service and self-refer here.
Perinatal Community Mental Health Teams
The teams work with people who have a range of mental health problems during pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood. Our Perinatal Community Mental Health Team is accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Perinatal Quality Network, in recognition of the excellent standards of care they provide.
Around one in 10 women experience postnatal depression after having a baby. Our award-winning range of self-help guides includes a booklet on postnatal depression. The guide explains some of the causes, explores ways of coping and managing postnatal depression and signposts to further support. You can find the guide here.
Our community mental health teams host support a number of support groups. ‘Finding Our Rhythm’, which is an online perinatal mother and baby group, and GroBrain, an 8-week course about infant brain development and how parents can impact this.
The Virtual Hangout Group began during lockdown when face to face groups were no longer possible. The group is open to both pregnant woman and postnatal woman. The aim of this group is to provide a safe and easily accessible space for women where they can share parts of their journey with others.
The “Finding Our Feet” Perinatal Walk and Talk has recently restarted following Covid. The group meet once a week and it is for anyone open to the Perinatal Team. This group encourages women to get outside with their babies and enjoy some gentle exercise whilst also enabling them to connect with other Mums.
The Trust has received some brilliant feedback for these groups.
“I find the walk and talk really helpful! It’s something I look forward to every week, it makes me feel less alone and a safe space to openly share any feelings or worries I have. This is through talking to the other Mams about their experiences as well as mine.”
“The Peer Support led group is wonderful and is a very good opportunity to connect with people in a similar situation to my own. Everyone there is lovely and really understanding. I have learnt a lot of valuable things from it and it helps me see things from different perspectives and meet people I probably wouldn’t connect with. It has such a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and I always feel safe in the group.”
“Being a mammy is isolating enough, your world as you know it is never the same again and that’s hard enough without adding mental health into the mixture so having a group of likeminded mummys is like a safe haven and a lovely community where you can say anything and know you won’t be judged. We share stories of our babies’, good and bad, and share out tips and tricks to make our lives that little bit easier. We smile, laugh, cry but at the end of the group we are all just HUMAN.”
“Grobrain group has really opened my eyes to how good of a Mam I really am. It’s shown me the things I’m doing are right by my daughter and motherhood is different for everyone. Hearing other mams’ stories has really opened my eyes to maternal mental health and the issues I’ve battled with are so much more common than I thought. Even something as small as knowing that has helped me be more honest about my mental health which makes me an even better Mam.”
“Both baby groups have really helped me with my confidence and it’s helped me learn more about my son and how his brain works and what signs he gives for different things. It’s massively helped my mental health as I thought I wasn’t a good enough mam because I didn’t know what he was wanting or how his little brain worked so it had an impact on my mental health negatively but both the baby groups have really helped me and it’s helped my mental health.”
“The Grobrain group really helps me be more confident in my parenting by helping me know how her brain works and develops as well as being able to share similar experiences with other parents. I also LOVE learning as much as I can about my baby so it makes my week a little bit better.”
“Being pregnant and having a baby is an emotional time for a mam, add mental health into the mix and it’s an emotional roller coaster of conflicting and intrusive feelings. The group has helped me to connect with other mams, who don’t expect me to be happy all of the time, and actually it’s ok not to be ok and to need additional support. Connecting with other mams and babies who struggle with mental health difficulties has made me a stronger person and mam for my baby boy.”
“I can connect and bond better with my baby since attending group, because I’m more able to manage my emotions and thoughts after talking to professionals and people going through a similar experience.”
If you are pregnant or a new mother and are worried about your mental health, please speak to your GP who will help you to access the support you need.