New parents and families can find it helpful to access a range of support services that are delivered by voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations in their local community.
Support services provided by the VCS may be delivered by volunteers and staff (who may or may not have a clinical background) within a wide range of organisations. These include groups set up by individuals who have experienced or identified gaps in support in their communities, local community organisations, and large national charities such as MIND.
VCS organisations offer non-judgmental safe spaces and accessible and relatable services for parents affected by perinatal mental health problems. This support helps to ensure honest conversations take place and parents receive the tailored support they need. The Hearts and Minds partnership is a collective of three perinatal mental health charities and have created an interactive map to make it easier for families to identify and access quality grassroots VCS support services in their local communities.
Your local Child and Family Centre also provides family health and support services and can help to signpost you to groups and activities that are happening in your area. Parents often find that attending groups like baby massage, baby sensory or singing groups help them not only to enjoy interacting with their baby, but to begin to build up a new network of friends. It can feel a bit daunting going to a new group, but remember that everyone is in the same boat and most parents are glad to have the opportunity to share their experiences.
Many of these groups are free, or charge a small fee. Many local churches or libraries also run groups for babies and parents. Your newsagent, supermarket or citizens’ advice centre are also useful places to look to find out what is on in your local area. You can find out more by contacting your local council or asking your midwife or health visitor for further information.