The Mas project (Maternal Advocacy and Support) provides maternal mental health support to women who are pregnant and/ or who have children up to the age of 3. After the success of the pilot project and the development of Mas 1, 2020-2023 we have been further supported by the National Lottery Community Fund to deliver Mas 2 from 2023-2026 Our centre partners for Mas 2 are Falls Women’s Centre, Windsor Women’s Centre, Ballybeen Women’s Centre, Atlas Women’s Centre, Women’s Centre Derry and Strathfoyle.
We will also train rural groups in our Mas model by providing training and support for organisations to set up a maternal mental health support group for women in areas where there is minimal support and women may face increased isolation.
Women attending the Mas project benefit from peer support, conversation based support groups where women make friends and support each other. Women also engage in a range of initiatives and workshops including mindfulness, art for wellbeing, life- coaching sessions to support their mental health and promote emotional wellbeing.
In addition, we engage with women about their experiences in the Mas groups to map out a vision for change and service improvement. We have created a Lived Experience Video highlighting some of the key concerns and needs for change that came directly from women attending the project. The key messages are also captured in our blog featured by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance. The Mas book of women’s experiences further highlights testimonies of women who are attending the project.
The project is supported by Aware NI who provide training to Mas staff and deliver programmes for women across the centres.
At WRDA we have developed our own Mas Project OCN Level 3 including modules in Perinatal Mental Health, Peer Support, Collective Campaigning. We have also trained and continue to provide Group Leader training for women across the project.
We are delighted that we have been supported by The Pilgrim Trust to create a Young Mums Mas project for women who are 16-25 that will be delivered in two of the women’s centres, Ballybeen and Atlas.
WRDA and the Mas project are pleased that perinatal mental health teams have now been set up across all 5 trusts. We are also delighted that the site for a mother and baby unit has been confirmed at the City Hospital within the Belfast Trust and we welcome clarity on funding for the unit to progress and be set up as soon as possible.
Long- term funding for projects like Mas is essential so that all women can access quality perinatal mental health care. Community support services are a life changing early intervention service that need long term financial support
We are members of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance and support the Everyone’s Business campaign
The Mas project support and practice the 5 principles of perinatal mental health peer support