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"I'm a better mum for it." How Suffolk Libraries is tackling maternal mental health

Me, Myself and Baby logo

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 3rd – 9th May and is a week long campaign dedicated to talking about mental health problems during and after pregnancy. This year, the theme of the week is ‘Journeys to Recovery’.

Our own perinatal mental health service Me, Myself and Baby launched in July 2020. Since then, we have worked with over a hundred families across the county to help them find support, advice and friendship amongst other parents in their local communities.

The service helps both mums and dads, from pregnancy through to when their child turns 5, on a wide range of matters such as miscarriage, birth trauma, relationships, anxiety, depression and loneliness. Our staff offer a friendly listening ear and can refer on for more specialist support as appropriate.

In support of the service, front-line library staff have received perinatal mental health awareness training, giving them the confidence and the knowledge to be able to support and signpost families who come in to library branches. In partnership with Suffolk Mind, the service has provided free counselling sessions to parents.

Suffolk Mind have also delivered four courses of ‘Mums Matter’ online, a free course designed to develop tools and strategies for managing and coping with worrying thoughts, anxiety and postnatal depression.

Virtual coffee mornings have been run for parents throughout lockdown and beyond when mums and dads couldn't meet up. This has given parents the chance to meet others with a baby the same age, make friends and receive peer support.

Ruth Sparshott, Perinatal Mental Health Project Assistant, said:

"We know that the pandemic has drastically changed the way that new parents receive support, but we are proud that despite the challenges, we have continued to be able to bring parents together and offered a safe and friendly space to feel heard."

Keep an eye out on our social media throughout the week where we will be sharing stories and comments from parents who have been helped by our Me, Myself and Baby service. Here are a few examples:

"Before the group, I was barely holding it together. Being able to speak to other mums made everything much easier to handle. I'm a better mum for it." - Tracey

"Maternity leave in lockdown has been very isolating, feeling trapped with no support network as a first time mum. Our weekly calls and WhatsApp group have been a lifesaver." - Chloe

Perinatal mental health is also the subject of our latest Suffolk Libraries Podcast which is available to listen to on our YouTube channel.

For more information about the service, visit our perinatal support page or email memyselfandbaby@suffolklibraries.co.uk.