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Welsh family charity encourages mums to ask for help if they are struggling as part of a campaign during Maternal Mental Health Week (May 2-8)

A Welsh family support charity is encouraging mums to talk about their wellbeing and reach out for support if they need it as part of a campaign for Maternal Mental Health Week (May 2-8). Home-Start Cymru is raising awareness among local mums to let them know that in addition to clinical services, vital peer support is available in their area through the charity’s network of confidential, trained volunteers.Bethan Webber, Chief Executive of Home-Start Cymru, said: “For Maternal Mental Health Week, we are encouraging families to talk about their wellbeing and not be afraid to ask for help. There is still a real stigma around talking openly about parental mental health. We would love to encourage mums who are feeling overwhelmed to take the brave decision to reach out for support.  Parenting is hard. It can be wonderful, but it can also be lonely and relentless. That is why Home-Start Cymru is ready to stand alongside families when they need us most with compassionate, non-judgmental support.”Home-Start Cymru supports mums’ mental health with trained volunteers through a range of activities, including wellbeing walks in the community, 1-2-1 support in the home, weekly group support groups and virtual catch-ups.Leanne Joy, a Home-Start Cymru volunteer who has experienced perinatal mental health herself, said: “After rounds of IVF, I fell pregnant with my first, and after giving birth, I had everything I wanted, but I didn’t feel how I should be feeling. I felt the loneliest and most vulnerable I had ever felt. I was lucky to be referred by my GP and supported by the perinatal mental health team.”The mother of two from Cardiff continues, “After my diagnosis and treatment, I wanted to give back and found Home-Start Cymru by chance. This was my opportunity to help parents who are experiencing the same as me. I really wanted to help others feel less alone and make a difference for those who feel there is no way out. Because there's a way out. You just have to reach out.”Meirwen Jones, Head of Operations for Home-Start Cymru, said: “Home-Start plays a vital role in providing non-judgemental peer support in people’s homes alongside group support. This year’s theme of Maternal Mental Health Week is fitting as it is ‘The Power of Connections’. We know only too well how not being able to see family and friends has been difficult throughout the pandemic. Home-Start harnesses the power of human connection to support families facing mental health challenges in the perinatal period. The excellent support our staff and trained volunteers provide has an amazing impact on families - because we truly are stronger together.”Meirwen continues: “We understand the value of face to face connections, especially for first time mums. Reaching out for support either to family and friends, a professional such as your midwife or health visitor, or getting in touch with a local community organisation such as Home-Start Cymru could be the first step to make a positive difference. The impact on families can be amazing - because we truly are stronger together. In the meantime, we want to remind mums to remember they are brilliant, remind them to take breaks, remember self-care, know that parenting is tough and most of all remember that parenting is not always the picture-perfect lifestyle often portrayed on social media.”Another mum who was supported by Home-Start said: “Please don’t shy away from asking for help. We all have limits and it’s important to recognise them. Looking back I probably had post-natal depression but didn’t realise it at the time. To me, Home-Start support was like taking the weight off your shoulders for a while, so you can be the parent you want to be. Without Home-Start I think I would have fallen into a deep depression, but I didn’t and that’s thanks to my volunteer.” Home-Start Cymru works across 18 local authorities in Wales providing compassionate support to local families who are facing a wide range of challenges including mental health, bereavement, isolation, multiple births, domestic abuse, financial hardship or supporting a parent or child who has a disability or health issue. Once a family is matched, their trained volunteer visits once a week for two hours to support in a wide variety of ways that meet the individual needs of that family.Maternal Mental Health Week, which is into its eighth year, is a campaign dedicated to talking about mental health problems during and after pregnancy. The week focuses on raising public and professional awareness of perinatal mental health problems, advocating for women affected, changing attitudes and helping families access the information, care and support they need to recover. Link: https://maternalmentalhealthalliance.org/news/maternal-mental-health-awareness-week-2022/