AN EAST Oxford group created to support new mums struggling with their mental health and wellbeing will celebrate its first birthday today.
The Motherkind Cafe was set up by three local mothers to be a mum and baby group ‘with a difference’.
It offers free peer support for mothers who are worried about their mental health or who are finding motherhood tough for any reason and would like to have an ‘honest conversation about their emotional wellbeing’ or find out where they can get help locally.
Since starting in January 2019, the group, which is based at Flo’s Place in the Park, has put on 42 sessions, supported 93 women and trained 17 ‘peer supporters’.
The Motherkind Cafe was initially set up by Guin Webster, Becca Knowles-Bevis and Emily Malden.
Ms Webster and Ms Knowles-Bevis are both clinical psychologists with experience in perinatal mental health and they have been involved with voluntary groups in Oxford that support mothers and children for many years.
Ms Malden suffered with postnatal anxiety after the birth of her son in 2017 and said she found ‘very little’ support available for mothers with small children unless their mental illness was ‘very acute’.
She said: “When I went to see my GP to say I was struggling, I was offered medication and a couple of website addresses, and as I didn’t meet the criteria for urgent help, the wait for perinatal mental health treatment was going to be a long one.
“What I needed was face-to-face support and a place to talk to other women who might be feeling the same.”
She added: “I found a lot of women being refreshingly honest about postnatal mental health online, but no one was saying it aloud in real life. I wanted to create a group where the focus was on your own mental wellbeing, where it was ok to not be ok, and that if you were really struggling, you could say so.”
The Motherkind Cafe is a designed to be a safe space for women with babies and young children to come to talk openly about postnatal mental health and the realities of motherhood without judgement, with other mums who understand.
All of the peer supporter volunteers are mums themselves and many have experience of a postnatal mental health condition.
The aim of the group is to normalise many of the ‘difficult and complex feelings’ women experience when they first become mothers and also to provide a place for those struggling with postnatal mental health conditions to connect with women who have had similar experiences.
For those that need it, the group can also offer advice about where to find further support.
The group is entirely volunteer run and funded by donations.
No referral or booking is needed, it is free to attend and women can bring their babies or preschool children to the session.
For more information visit the group’s Facebook page by searching The Motherkind Cafe or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sessions are held every Friday between 10.30 and 11.45am. Donate via gofundme.com/f/a-dropin-support-group-for-postnatal-wellbeing.