Michelle Bromley, who runs the Snowdrop Doula Community Interest Company, is looking for five mums to volunteer for training in Level 3 perinatal mental health.
Upon completion, the volunteers will work alongside Snowdrop’s counselors and offer both one-to-one and group peer support to other parents.
Michelle says new mums are particularly vulnerable to developing mental illness but both Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis have compounded many people’s worries about how they will cope with looking after their little one. Many parents put their mental health needs to the bottom of their priority list as they struggle to make ends meet, she adds.
Michelle said: “I would say around 90% of women who access our services do so looking to improve their mental health and wellbeing. We’ve opened a cafe in Accrington but it seems more people come in for counseling or drop-in support.
“Lots of things impact on mental health, especially after having a baby. It can be a lonely time.
“People are choosing between eating or heating their house. Many new mums are worrying about how they are going to be able to afford everything and if they can feed and clothe their baby when the cost of everything is going up.
“There’s a lot of loneliness and isolation, and many mums are not talking to others about what they’re feeling.
“Stigma around mental illness remains. Women are worried about seeking support, and services aren’t always friendly to mums. Many don’t know that support services exist or or they can’t really access them because they can’t afford childcare or to travel across town.”
Michelle hopes the new scheme will make it easier for mums to access support as it will be tailored to their needs. Volunteers, for example, could help out around the house, go for a walk with families in the park, visit mums to have a chat and a brew, or go out and doing something with the children.
She added: “I think it’s really important to support the mental health of new mums as it can shape the whole family long-term and improve their children’s wellbeing.”