A Norfolk-based family support charity is encouraging mums to talk about their wellbeing, and reach out for support as part of this week’s Maternal Mental Health Week.
Home-Start Norfolk is raising awareness among West Norfolk mums to let them know support is available through the charity’s network of confidential, trained volunteers.
Natalie Spurdens, the charity’s services manager, said: “We are encouraging families to talk about their wellbeing and not be afraid to ask for help.
“There is still a real stigma around talking openly about parental mental health. We would love to encourage mums who are finding things difficult to take the brave decision to reach out for support.
“Parenting is hard. It can be wonderful but it can also be lonely and frustrating.
“That is why Home-Start Norfolk is ready to stand alongside families when they need us most with compassionate, non-judgemental support.”
Maternal Mental Health Week is a national campaign dedicated to talking about mental health problems during and after pregnancy.
Home-Start Norfolk’s support covers areas such as mental health, bereavement, isolation, multiple birth, domestic abuse, financial hardship, and supporting a parent or child who has a disability or health issue.
The charity has trained home-visiting volunteers and offers a range of activities, including baby massage, and stay and play baby and toddler groups.
Once a family is matched, their volunteer visits once a week for two hours.
Alex Corgier, Home-Start’s perinatal lead, said: “Reaching out for support either to family and friends, a professional such as your midwife or health visitor, or getting in touch with a local community organisation such as Home-Start could be the first step to make a positive difference.
“Meantime, we want to remind mums to remember they are brilliant, remind them to take breaks, remember self-care, know that parenting is tough and most of all remember that parenting is not always the picture perfect lifestyle often portrayed on social media.”
To find out how to access support from Home-Start Norfolk visit homestartnorfolk.org
Lauren, from King’s Lynn, has struggled with her mental health throughout her life. With no support system around her after giving birth to her son, a Home-Start Norfolk volunteer helped her to integrate into the local community. She said:
“If it wasn’t for Home-Start Norfolk I would have been a totally different mum to my son.
“I was referred to the perinatal team when I was three months pregnant, struggling with my mental health and I had just gone through a relationship breakdown.
“After having my son I got diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I wouldn’t leave the house due to crippling anxiety, and because of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder I couldn’t cope with the mess that came with having a child.
“The perinatal team was only able to offer support until my son was one, that’s when I got referred to Home-Start Norfolk and met Sylvia, my volunteer.
“Sylvia has been amazing. I know for certain if it wasn’t for her my mental health would have deteriorated, she has done so much and made such a difference to our lives.
“There is not just one thing she has done for us, it is lots and lots of little things. She would encourage me to play with my son by coming up with activities like painting and baking, and would help me to cope with the mess.
“We would work on my confidence in leaving the house. We started off going out to the shops together and as I grew in confidence Sylvia would wait outside so I knew she was there if she needed me.
“Sylvia has helped me to find my identity again. I have been through a lot and lost myself along the way, she has given me confidence in my parenting ability and has helped me regain my independence.
“Home-Start Norfolk has been a lifeline for me and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for them. It’s still a work in progress but I am now able to take my son out on my own, I play games with him, we love doing little science experiments and I have a lot more patience with him now.
“I would love to become a Home-Start volunteer in the future and give something back.
“I have completed some courses on mental health and just finished a course to become a peer support volunteer.”