Mental health group shows support for Sussex parents

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Parents struggling with mental health problems are getting the support they need thanks to a project celebrating its second anniversary in January.

More than 190 parents have improved their mental health thanks to the Families in Mind (Post Natal Support) project, run by Coastal West Sussex Mind.

The scheme provides group, peer and one-to-one support for parents who are experiencing low moods, feelings of isolation or anxiety, or struggling with perinatal and postnatal depression.

Sean O’Donnell, team leader at Footprints Children and Family Centre in Worthing, said: “The postnatal depression support group really is helping people.

“When it was first launched 18 months ago, the group filled a gap in the support available in Worthing for new mums and dads.

“It was a hole which has been filled and now gives people that instantaneous access to mental health support which is so valuable.”

One participant said: “When I was about eight weeks pregnant I suffered badly from prenatal depression. I wouldn’t eat or drink, I lost a lot of weight. I cried all the time. I started having thoughts of getting rid of my baby.”

After taking part in the scheme she said: “I was able to discuss my true feelings without being judged.

“It gave me a support network outside of the group, friends I could talk to day and night.

“Without the group, I would have been totally isolated.”

According to the NSPCC one in ten women suffer from a perinatal mental illness and evidence shows they do not get the care and support they need.

Families in Mind aims to improve mental health awareness, coping mechanisms and the bond between parent and child.

“I could not have got through without this support,” said another participant.

“I have gone from a very depressed, upset, emotional new mum to a confident, happy mum who can cope with what life throws at me.”

The group claims all of those who have taken part so far have said it has helped them to manage their mental health more effectively.

The service is provided at the Bognor, Chichester and Worthing children and family centres, and parents are welcome to take their children with them.

For more information, check www.coastalwestsussexmind.org/our-services/post-natal-support-group or visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/CoastalWestSussexMind.

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