Having experienced postnatal depression after having her second child, Steph felt that she had little support or people to turn to who had an understanding of what she was going through. At the time she struggled but managed to deal with these experiences through researching postnatal depression and practicing strategies for self- management. In the years after, Stephanie felt passionate about providing support for others that she could not find herself when needed. She wanted to share her experiences in a positive way and created Raindrops to Rainbows, a peer support group for mums experiencing pre/postnatal depression, where those with lived experience of pre/postnatal depression can come together, share experiences, advice, support each other and receive information on relevant local services.
Steph explains “Initially, I did wonder whether I could handle the responsibility of setting up the first group, however, because I knew that there was a need for it, I jumped in feet first. A centre in Billingham gave me the opportunity to hold weekly peer support groups at their venue and that’s where the first group began. It was difficult at first to engage mums due to the stigma and misconception of what would happen if they told people about their postnatal depression, however, on our board of directors we have a social worker as well as an antenatal teacher, they support with advice and guidance around misconceptions.
You can see the difference that coming to the groups has on the mums, being able to open up and share experiences with others who have the same or similar experiences is a relief and support for many who would otherwise become isolated. Just recently one of the mums commented how the group has really helped as it gets her out of the house and meeting other mums instead of sitting at home. She said it was good to be around people that understand you, and although it’s hard some days to motivate herself to get to the group, she always felt better after attending.
Since starting up the first group in Billingham 18 months ago, we have set up weekly groups in Jarrow and Newton Aycliffe and more recently working with Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind’s Side by Side Peer Support programme, we have also linked with BigLife Families in Stockton, to set up a new weekly peer support group in central Stockton. Raised awareness of pre/postnatal depression in the areas where the groups run is apparent. Community support from Stockton has been particularly great in raising awareness and raising funds, with events held and further events planned at the Music Lounge in Stockton. Community support helps to keep the groups running and allows us to expand and provide support in more areas. Anyone who is or thinks they are experiencing pre/postnatal depression please come along to one of the groups."
Billingham Group: Tuesday’s 1-2 pm at the New Life Family Centre, Low Grange Avenue, Billingham, Stockton on Tees (Weekly Group)
Stockton Group: Starts Monday 1st February 1-2pm at The Star Children’s Centre, Bath Lane, Stockton (Weekly Group)
For further information please contact Steph on firstname.lastname@example.org