Mental health problems can affect anyone. You can talk to us without feeling embarrassedperinatal mental health support
The story of Mothers for Mothers starts with brave forward thinking women and birthing people who experienced maternal mental illness. In 1981 before peer support was recognised as a useful tool, these brave women and birthing people decided what would have helped them recover would have been the opportunity to talk to others who had similar experiences. They started a telephone helpline at Bristol Maternity Hospital.
Operations moved firstly into Barton Hill Settlement in 1987 and then onto Gloucester Road. In the 1990s the first counselling service specifically for Perinatal Mental Illness began. Moving onto the 2000s, a move to Colston Street and the start of our peer support groups, Bedminster in 2002 and Barton Hill in 2005. We started a new home visiting service and we celebrated our 35th birthday in 2016 with a big party at Bristol Zoo. We rebranded with a new logo and infograph and Mark Williams became our Ambassador. In 2017 we moved to the New Fulford Centre. We opened two new support groups, one in Staple Hill and another in Hartcliffe. Our counselling service developed to also offer Art Psychotherapy. We now have a specific antenatal and wellbeing in pregnancy group for women and birthing people; and we offer Send Peer support for those who need support navigating the world of SEND for either themselves or their children.
Over the years many women, birthing people and their families have been supported and many women and birthing people have helped on the support team, as trustees, volunteers and staff. There were times when our road was straight, times when it was winding, sometimes we navigated potholes and faced mountains. The twists and turns enriched our story and gave us new experiences which prepared us for the journey ahead. In 2018 we were the very proud winners of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance Perinatal Peer Support Award. We felt this award honoured those trail blazing women and birthing people of lived experience who started this charity in 1981.
We have stayed true to the vision of those brave women and birthing people of 1981 as we continue to supported families affected by maternal mental illness across Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset. We offer support to women and birthing people during pregnancy and until their youngest child attends school, from illness to wellness, our support services: Reach helpline/support calls, Home Visiting, Counselling and Peer Support Groups, Antenatal Support Groups and SEND Support. Our services are designed, developed and delivered by women and birthing people with lived experience. We aim to achieve the following outcomes for the women, birthing people and families we work with:
- Improved confidence, resilience and relationships with children and family, leading to faster recovery.
- Improving children’s emotional development by supporting mothers to be sensitive and responsive in their relationships with their children.
- Reduced social isolation and improved social and support networks.
- More awareness of maternal mental health and the support available.
- Improved care and services for maternal mental illness.
Our actions will help us to ensure that no one is left behind, that everyone’s story is heard and our story continues to grow with renewed confidence in our aims, uniting us in the story of our past and our hopes for the story of our future. We always remember the love, compassion, hope, diligence and courage of the women and birthing people from 1981 as we embrace our future story moving forward.