Suffolk Libraries has launched a new perinatal support service aimed at pregnant women and new parents in Ipswich and East Suffolk.
‘Me, Myself and Baby’ is an exciting new partnership between Suffolk Libraries, Suffolk Mind, Children’s Centres, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Get Me Out of These Four Walls.
Maternal mental illness affects up to 20% of women and covers a wide range of conditions. If left untreated, it can have significant and long-lasting effects for women and their families. The aim of the project is to help reduce isolation and improve emotional wellbeing for new parents.
The project is being funded by Suffolk Community Foundation through Realising Ambitions – East. Suffolk Libraries’ Mental Health and Wellbeing service successfully bid for funding earlier in the year. The aim was originally to set up a range of library-based groups but the COVID-19 situation has meant the initial focus will be on supporting people remotely and online.
The four key areas of the project will be:
• An email support service for mums and dads struggling with their wellbeing. A safe and confidential place to write down thoughts and feelings and receive help, guidance and information. Anyone affected can email email@example.com for help.
• Telephone counselling will be available for parents who contact the email address but require additional support. A referral can be made for eight free 50-minute sessions of telephone counselling, provided by Suffolk Mind.
• Stay at Home and Play will provide play ideas for babies and toddlers. Parents can access videos with examples via Suffolk Libraries’ You Tube channel. Activities are free or low cost, giving ideas on how to use everyday items in the home to create fun and nurturing invitations to play.
• Peer support Mums and dads who contact the Me, Myself and Baby service will be invited to online coffee mornings. These will offer a relaxed and informal opportunity to meet people in a similar situation, share experiences and chat.
A new Perinatal Mental Health Project Assistant, Ruth Sparshott has also recently joined Suffolk Libraries to coordinate the project.
Sarah Lungley, Suffolk Libraries Wellbeing Manager, said:
"We are thrilled to finally be able to launch Me, Myself and Baby. Despite the challenges presented to us during this difficult time, we have worked hard alongside partners to develop and adapt our offer. Whilst the service may not be how we had initially planned, we hope we will still be able to connect with and help support many parents and carers in Ipswich and East Suffolk.
"Perinatal mental health is hugely important, but is a part of mental health still not talked about and surrounded by stigma. It’s especially important at this time, that mums and families know there is support out there. As a library service, we have a long history of supporting new parents and we feel this project, working alongside expert partners, only helps strengthen this. Whether it is the middle of the night when the baby is awake, or at the end of a long day caring for a newborn child whilst home schooling, the message is the same – ‘you are not alone’."
The ‘Me, Myself and Baby’ project is available to pregnant women and parents of children under 5 in the Ipswich and East Suffolk Area.