Getting yourself up and running when you’ve got a demanding new baby and you’re in the grip of a debilitating mental illness is a daunting prospect. But Fitmums & Friends has a scheme to help sufferers of post-natal and pre-natal depression do just that.
A grant received from Sport Relief Community Cash in 2012 (administered by Two Ridings Community Foundation), enabled Post-Natal Depression Volunteer Supporters to be recruited from the Fitmums & Friends ranks. Their mission was to help struggling mums and mums-to-be get back on their feet. The aim of the additional support was to reach out a friendly hand to those in need of it and reduce some of the stigma attached to mental illness. Since then further funding in 2016 from National Lottery (Awards for All) & NHS Hull CCG has enabled the continuation of this support under the umbrella of an expanded scheme called “In the Pink”.
Supporting families with post-natal depression via this scheme is unlike anything else being offered in the area. With up to one in seven of all new mothers affected by post-natal depression, demand for the service is high. It is open to women from all over Hull and the East Riding. They can choose to attend any of the Fitmums & Friends’ existing groups which are currently in Cottingham, East Hull, Hedon, Beverley & Boothferry.
They offer one-to-one encouragement to vulnerable women who self-refer or who are referred to Fitmums & Friends by Hull post-natal depression charity, House Of Light, GP’s, health visitors and children’s centre staff. The scheme is free.
The Hull post-natal depression support charity House Of Light work work closely with the Fitmums & Friends team. Jo, a former midwife and mother of one, is happy to be able to refer suitable clients to the Fitmums & Friends’ Post-Natal Depression Support Workers.
Jo said: “Research has shown that peer support works and we know that exercise can help depression. Some of the ladies who come to House of Light will be able to get support from the Fitmums & Friends, through having someone to talk to.
“Postnatal depression can be mild, moderate or severe. Having a baby is not always easy and being able to talk over your feelings can and does make a huge difference. Some mums may need longer-term support. We will support mums as much as they require.
“A lot of mums who come to our drop-in sessions are at a point where they are ready to go out and try exercise but they don’t want to go out on their own. With the Fitmums & Friends scheme, we can give them a named person who will meet them and help them.”
"The initial "non exercise meet up" put me at my ease and helped me know what to expect"
"Knowing I am able to do it rather than always thinking it's too much of a challenge so as to not bother"
"feeling as if there is someone who understands how I'm feeling and is not judgemental"
"meeting the support worker meant that I went to the exercise session when otherwise I would not have. It made me go when I may have kept putting it off"
"I am grateful to the support workers for getting me started - I wouldn't have done it without them but feel it's the best thing for me to do for myself and very needed to help me manage my PND."