What are they?
A peer-led support group is when we use our own experiences to help and support each other. Happy Mums groups all aim to provide hope and acceptance, and reduce feelings of isolation. In peer-led groups everyone's experiences are equally important and we all give and receive support. How much you participate can vary depending on what feels right for you at different times. It's important to remember that peer support complements rather than replaces professional help.
Happy Mums offers a variety of different groups, based on:
What we have in common: All our groups are specifically for women who are pregnant or mums.
Our Support Groups bring together those who are also at risk of or experiencing mental health problems;
We aim to develop a range of groups bringing together women with maternal mental health problems who also share other characteristics eg. single mums, mums with a disability or health condition, mums who have children with additional needs, lesbian mums, Black and Brown mums, younger mums or those with experience of IVF. This list is not exhaustive and we're always open to ideas!
How we access the groups: We offer a mixture of face-to-face groups (restarting April 2021) and online groups via Zoom.
What we do together: Occasionally we also offer peer-led groups based around an activity such as walking or craft. We often work in partnership with other organisations to deliver these sessions.
How do I sign-up to come to a group?
Have a look at the timetable of groups currently available and click 'Register Online'. When you have completed the short form, you will receive an email from one of the team to confirm the details of the group you have chosen eg. location, day/ time or a zoom link if you've selected to join us online.
If there is anything we can do to support you to access the groups please do let us know. We are happy to answer any questions you have beforehand by email, over the phone or in person before the group starts.
You will also receive a link to complete a short 'mood survey'. This is a form which asks questions about how you have been feeling over the past two weeks. We will ask you to complete this form again roughly every six weeks. Tracking your feelings in this way can help us to demonstrate the positive impact our groups can have for women with maternal mental health problems to funders and others. Any information we report is completely anonymous. You don't have to complete the form if you don't want to.
What happens at the group?
The groups are organised and facilitated by trained staff and/or volunteers. They are responsible for setting up the space (face-to-face or online) and keeping to time. All women who take part in the groups are equally responsible for keeping the group safe and welcoming. We do this through our group agreement which is like a set of ground rules for how we want our groups to run.
We have additional information available for online groups which are held on Zoom, and for groups held face-to-face during Covid restrictions.
Our groups have a structure that we follow whether face-to-face or online. All groups last one hour (except activity-based groups which may last longer).
First15 minutes: settle in, grab a cuppa and the facilitators go through the Group Agreement;
Next 40 minutes: facilitators will ask each participant in turn "how has your week been?". This is your opportunity to say as much or as little as you would like to. Sometimes it's enough just to listen. You don't have to say anything if you don't want to.
Final 5 minutes: facilitators will ask each person if they are OK before they leave, and it's a chance to signpost to other support or resources.
What happens afterwards?
After the group has finished, the facilitators will be available for around 30 minutes (by email/phone if it's an online group) to follow up on any concerns raised or to signpost on to other services.
The groups run every week and there is no set number of sessions or programme to follow. You can keep coming to the groups for as long as you feel they are beneficial, there is no cut-off limit. Although there is no expectation that you must make it to every session, we will check-in with you if you haven't been for a couple of weeks. You will continue to receive information about the groups via the weekly emailing list until you ask to be removed.
Every few months we will send you a link to a questionnaire about the accessibility and quality of the groups. This is your opportunity to give us valuable feedback to help us to keep developing the support we offer. Please do be honest - we are open to being challenged and are always looking for ways to improve. Again, please just ask if you wish to be removed from our distribution list.