The MAS project (Maternal Advocacy and Support) has received 3 years funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, following the success of the 6 month pilot project. We will work with 8 Women’s Centres, Windsor, Falls, Footprints, Ballybeen, Greenway, Atlas, Women’s Centre Derry and Strathfoyle to create a network of peer support groups for women experiencing perinatal mental health issues. The MAS network will also support women from disadvantaged communities to tell their story and participate in decisions that will improve perinatal mental health services.
During the pilot project we worked with women’s centres and explored issues related to maternal mental health, gaining tools and strategies for staying well, and gave feedback directly to service providers about how they could do better in supporting women. You can read the evaluation of the MAS pilot project here. 25 mums from 5 women’s centres completed the programme and received certificates at a showcase event in Belfast City Hall. The event, which was called BRAVE, was featured on NVTV’s news programme ‘The Round-Up’ which you can watch here. Some of the group have also gone on to meet with the Chief Medical Officer and deliver a presentation to midwives in the Royal Hospital. We also designed a bespoke information leaflet which you can download here.
WRDA is delighted that the long awaited funding for a specialists perinatal mental health community service model for Northern Ireland has been approved. This service will make a huge difference for women who meet the criteria for specialist support and we look forward to the development of this service across all 5 trusts. Prior to this announcement, only the Belfast Trust had a few perinatal mental health consultants so this funding is most welcome, particularly at this time when covid 19 restrictions impact and increase isolation for new mums.
WRDA’s aim is to bring the voices of women from disadvantaged communities into the heart of the campaign for better mental health services for mums. Research indicates that women from low income households are much more likely to be diagnosed with post-natal depression than those from more affluent backgrounds. In the pilot project many women have told us they feel it is harder for them to ask for help because they fear that a mental health issue could lead to social services involvement.
Throughout the 3 year project we will work closely with AWARE NI who will provide specialist training and support to Mas Project staff and they will deliver the Mood Matters, Mother and Baby programme to participants in all 8 women’s centres. We will also continue to lobby for better services for mums and we are proud to support the Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s Everyone’s Business Campaign.
We have a range of promotional material to support the MAs project which you can view below..