There is an expectation from society that motherhood is a perfect and blissful time, but for some families this isn’t the case. It can be a terrifying time for some mothers and fathers; it can be extremely isolating.
Perinatal mental illness is a term used to cover all mental health issues during pregnancy and up to a baby’s first birthday, including anxiety, depression and psychosis related disorders. Perinatal mental illness affects almost one in three mothers and one in ten fathers, and is one of the leading causes of death for mothers during pregnancy and the year after birth. Perinatal mental illness can also impact on the healthy emotional, cognitive and physical development of the child.
At times mothers can be surrounded by people yet feel lonely and alone. We provide a community based Perinatal Befriending Support Service which is an invaluable resource for mothers to be, mothers and their families by matching them with volunteer befrienders trained to provide practical and emotional support. The service, currently operating in Forth Valley and East Lothian, offers personalised support from conception up until the baby’s first birthday to help develop a positive relationship between mother or father and baby. As well as providing individual support in the family home and community, the volunteer befrienders also help mothers and fathers access support from other relevant services in their communities.
Over the past 4 years we have worked with 275 mothers across Forth Valley and it is our ultimate ambition to roll the service out across Scotland, so that every mother or father, no matter where they live, has access to personalised support and assistance when and where they need it most.
Maternal Mental Health Matters Week (29th April to 5th May 2019), organised by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, is an amazing week to raise awareness of an illness which isn’t discussed enough in society. This year’s theme is ‘Mums Matter’ and will focus on advocating for mothers affected by mental health issues and directing them to the information and help they need to recover.
Throughout the week we will be sharing the befriending journeys of some of the mothers we have matched through our Perinatal Befriending Support Service and our top 10 perinatal mental health tips, so do keep an eye on our social channels and our website.
We are currently looking for volunteer befrienders, if you would love to support a local mother or father, we want to hear from you.
Or if you, your family or someone you know could benefit from perinatal support, contact our teams today:
Don’t suffer in silence, everyone needs a helping hand every now and then.
Aberlour Assistant Director
29th April 2019