A new forum named By Your Side has been launched working with Coventry and Warwickshire Perinatal Mental Health Team. Its aim is to help support families who have accessed the service with emotional difficulties during pregnancy or in the year following the birth of their child.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Perinatal Mental Health Team is made up from teams across Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust and South Warwickshire Foundation NHS Trust.
All the attendees at the launch event had a ‘lived experience' and have been seen by the Coventry and Warwickshire Perinatal Mental Health Team. The forum aims to help support these families through their peer support service as well as breaking down the stigma and barriers that prevent people seeking the help and support they need.
Families have the opportunity to ‘stay and play’ at the sessions if they are being seen by the service, even if they haven’t completed their sessions.
Leanne Howlett, Founder of By Your Side, said: “When I experienced postnatal depression following the birth of my son I found it really hard to accept the support I needed because of the stigma and lack of awareness surrounding perinatal mental illness.
“As soon as I was well again I knew I wanted to do something to raise awareness and also to provide support to other parents who are going through what I did. I am so proud of what we have achieved with By Your Side in the last 12 months.”
Sue Drewitt, Perinatal Service Manager at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “This is just a wonderful opportunity for women who have been, or are being seen by the Perinatal service to come together with their children. It’s a group where there is no stigma and women can just be themselves and if they choose, share how they feel whilst being at the ‘stay and play’. It’s a safe, friendly environment where everyone has fun and enjoys each other’s company”
Diane Aldersley, Lead for Health Visiting at South Warwickshire Foundation NHS Trust, said: “It was an honour to attend the launch of the By Your Side Play and Stay Group. Whilst the group is referral only for those ladies being seen by the Perinatal Mental Health Team, what it does is raise awareness that looking after your mental and emotional health is so important.”
For further information about By Your Side, visit the Facebook page www.fb.com/byyoursideperinatal. To find out more about Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust’s Perinatal Mental Health service, visit www.covwarkpt.nhs.uk/perinatal-mental-health