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Are you a new mum? Becoming a parent is one of the most challenging things we can do. There’s the broken sleep, breastfeeding and changes to your body to contend with.  Add to that the challenges of Covid-19, and you may feel like everything’s just a bit too much.  Mums need to look after their mental well being as much as their physical well being. And we know that postnatal depression can affect as many as 30% of new mums.

But what do you do when life with your new baby isn’t quite as rosy as everybody said it was going to be? What if you can’t stop worrying. If you feel isolated. Or your mood is consistently low? 

Melodies for Mums

Breathe Arts Health Research are currently running, Melodies for Mums. This free support is a singing programme for new mothers who may be experiencing anxiety, low mood, stress, loneliness and possibly be at risk of or have postnatal depression.   

This isn’t your average mum and baby music group. Firstly, it is completely free, ensuring accessibility for women of all socio-economic backgrounds. Groups of 10 – 12 women are led by a trained musician. Instead of popular nursery rhymes, women learn everything from folk songs and lullabies to gospel, in a range of languages making it a culturally inclusive environment. The songs explored are focused on creatively stimulating and challenging the women taking part, which makes them different from many mum and baby groups.  

While the little ones will definitely get a lot out of the session, we’re specifically here to support mums. We want to offer mothers a joyful shared experience, that connects them to other women as well as their baby. There’s no need to share or go over anything that’s troubling you in the sessions. Just show up and get ready to sing! 

maternal mental health - happy mum and baby

Pioneering research into maternal mental health

Melodies for Mums is a model based on really pioneering research which, for the first time ever, looked at the benefits of singing on symptoms of Postnatal depression specifically.  We know that PND affects between 13-30% of new mothers… a broad bracket because so many mums don’t seek help or recognise their symptoms of being something more serious than the baby blues. So it’s hard to know exact numbers… but its high! And of course, during and as a result of this pandemic, the fear is this number will drastically increase.   

This research by Royal College of Music and Imperial College London investigated the impact on PND symptoms across three groups – 10 weeks of social care, social and play activity and singing activity. It was the singing programme that showed a faster improvement in PND symptoms, 1month earlier than the others. With PND, we know it’s important to address symptoms as early as possible so this was a key finding. 

How singing can improve mental wellbeing in new mums

From this research, we also know:  

  • Stress hormone levels (cortozol) levels reduced in mothers after singing activity 
  • There was a 41% reduction in symptoms of PND in 73% of women who took part
  • Opportunity to meet other mothers facing challenges in a familiar group setting, which is important for maternal mental health
  • Improved mother and baby bonding through singing over play 
  • Gives women an emotional outlet where they can express themselves 
  • A tool to use at home with baby – improving confidence 

How Covid has impacted mental health of new mums

Navigating through the pandemic as a new parent, must be extremely challenging. Especially with less tangible support available, prolonged periods of time without seeing friends and family and disrupted daily routines. There is a concern that mums suffering with maternal mental health will not be able to access the support they need.     

Recognising that lots of services, offers of care and activities are on hold because of COVID, Melodies for Mums has been redesigned to deliver the programme online. Running the sessions in this way increases the opportunity for mothers to get involved, as the location is not an issue. It also gives mothers who would ordinarily feel shy in group settings the freedom to join from the comfort of their own homes.    

Melodies for Mums is recruiting for a number of online programmes, open to women with young babies up to 9months, from across the UK. To sign up

Visit www.breatheahr.org or email us at [email protected] to sign up.   

Hannah Dye – Head of Programmes, Breathe Arts Health Research 

If you have PND we have a wealth of information, support and help in our PND section.

maternal mental health - Hannah Dye from Breathe Arts Health Research

 

#Shoutie Selfie – why we need to shout about mental health this year more than ever before

We are in our 5th year of running our annual Shoutie Selfie campaign. It was started by Emily (co-founder of Happity) back in 2017 – when she ran MummyLinks. Since then it has gone from strength to strength. Now in 2021 – after the year of the pandemic – we all need to shout loud about mental health more than ever.

What is everyone shouting about?

Do you know five parents? One of them is struggling with a mental health issue. And the likelihood is that all of them struggle with loneliness as some point each week.

Do you know which of your parent friends are struggling? I bet you don’t. And not because you’re a bad friend, but because they are probably hiding it from you.

This is what #ShoutieSelfie is all about. It’s about showing parents that are struggling that you love and support them. That they are not alone, and that it’s ok to feel they way they are.

shout selfie - why we need to shout about mental health

Why we need to shout loud about mental health

Luckily mental health issues have been getting more and more airtime. Celebs are talking out about it (watch this space for their #ShoutieSelfies!) and normal parents like us are too.

And it’s important, because no parent should feel alone in this.

That’s why I launched #Shoutie Selfie back in 2017 – to help parents out their struggling with their mental health to know they are not alone. I launched it because after struggling for 2 years with Post-Natal Depression and anxiety I started to share my experience and realised it wasn’t just me who was struggling – and knowing that helped me on my road to recovery.

The success of #Shoutie Selfie

I launched it in 2017 (with just 10 days planning and 2 months social media experience, but bags and bags of energy and passion!) and it was a great success. It got maternal mental health trending in just 30 minutes of launching, and a million impressions in the first week.

It’s been a huge success, with over 10 million impressions and the support of amazing charities, organisations and celebrities such as BBC5Live, HeadsTogether, Baby Buddy, NCT, PANDAS, World mental health day, Binky and Jane Felstead, Anna Williamson, Josh Paterson and many more!

#ShoutieSelfie 2021

This year with the pandemic we’re facing a mental health crisis.

The Health Foundation research found that:

More than two-thirds of adults in the UK (69%) report feeling somewhat or very worried about the effect COVID-19 is having on their life. The most common issues affecting wellbeing are worry about the future (63%), feeling stressed or anxious (56%) and feeling bored (49%).

Our own research at Happity in the past years has found that 93% of mums are lonely each week. And that struggling with loneliness makes you 50% more likely to struggle with your mental health.

And with perinatel mental health struggles, even before Covid-19, costing the UK £8.1bn for each one-year cohort of births, something needs to be done.

We need to be supporting each other in understand why looking after our mental health is so important, and how to do it.

How to do a #ShoutieSelfie

So, if you love someone who is struggling – or have/are struggling yourself – of even if don’t know of anyone struggling but want to let those around you know that you support and don’t judge them, please:

  1. Take a selfie of you shouting (feel free to write #ShoutieSelfie on it if you fancy!)
  2. If you’d like to us the official wording make sure you are signed up to our newsletter to hear updates before the big day!
  3. Post it using #ShoutieSelfie on Wednesday 5th May on your social media platforms, tagging 5 friends who understand if you can so they can take part too!
  4. Tag Happity (@happityapp on Twitter and FB, and @happity.co.uk on IG!) and we will share your post 🙂

What to write in your #ShoutieSelfie post

You can, of course, write your own words to explain why you are posting your #ShoutieSelfie. But, if you prefer, we have put together some words that you can use on each of the different social media channels that you can copy and paste.

Instagram:

This is my #ShoutieSelfie
 
It’s to help raise awareness of maternal mental health. And to let anyone suffering know they are NOT alone.

This year, more than ever, so many of us have struggled with our mental health. I’m posting my #ShoutieSelfie to let you know that if you are struggling I support you, I understand you, and I don’t judge you.

I shout loud to let you know it’s OK to not be OK. There’s no stigma. BUT there IS support and help – and things WILL get better.

I shout to raise awareness that we need more free and easily accessible support for those suffering with poor mental health.

I shout because nobody should feel alone.

Will you post your #ShoutieSelfie too?

Tag 5 friends who understand and @happity.co.uk for shares

Facebook:

This is my #ShoutieSelfie
 
It’s to help raise awareness of maternal mental health. And to let anyone suffering know they are NOT alone.

This year, more than ever, so many of us have struggled with our mental health. I’m posting my #ShoutieSelfie to let you know that if you are struggling I support you, I understand you, and I don’t judge you.

I shout loud to let you know it’s OK to not be OK. There’s no stigma. BUT there IS support and help – and things WILL get better.

I shout to raise awareness that we need more free and easily accessible support for those suffering with poor mental health.

I shout because nobody should feel alone.

Will you post your #ShoutieSelfie too?

Tag 5 friends who understand and @happityapp for shares

Twitter:

This is my #ShoutieSelfie. 
If you are struggling with mental health I’m shouting that I support you, I don’t judge you, and you are not alone.
Will you post your #ShoutieSelfie too? 
Tag 5 friends who understand & @happityapp for retweets 

If you want to see more updates about #ShoutieSelfie and Happity please follow us on InstagramFacebook or Twitter.

Let’s do something great!

Need help with your mental health?

If you need support with your mental health please click here.

Supporting Organisations

NCT
Pandas
MMHA
World Mental Health Day
Best Beginnings
Heads Together
Baby Buddy
BBC 5 Live
ITN
Glamour
Channel 5 News