In the weeks between World Suicide Prevention Day and World Mental Health Day, which this year focusses on suicide prevention, we’re going to be focussing in on those who are the highest risk of suicide and share how we can hold out hope.
It came to my attention last week that I’d not encountered before, and it broke my heart.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for new mums in the first year of their babies’ lives.
Countless babies lose their Mums to suicide before they reach their first birthday.
And with an estimated 52% of children in England accessing some form of church led group, we are perfectly placed to act.
Firstly, be aware of mental health issues; you don’t need to be an expert, but being able to spot the signs of common perinatal mental illnesses such as post-natal depression can help your confidence in providing support and recognising when a Mum might need more specialist support.
Secondly, check in after the meal rota is over. For so many families, a church meal rota is a lifeline in those first bewildering weeks, but make sure you check up on families once partners have returned to work and the visitors have slowed down.
Thirdly, raise awareness in your baby or toddler group. It can be as simple as chatting openly about emotions, to using national awareness days and weeks such as Maternal Mental Health Week in May to perhaps run a fundraiser for organisations like PANDAS.
Fourthly, encourage openness and honesty within the group. This might take work and won’t happen overnight, but in doing so (perhaps by getting a Mum who’s willing to share her story) Mum and baby groups can be lifelines of support rather than places where Mums feel compelled to compare themselves to one another.
Finally, get clued up on the local services which offer support to new mums. Whether that be local perinatal mental health services, children’s centres, health visitors or local charities such as Stockport’s Snowdrops.