Postnatal depression? SMILE!

The SMILE Group, a Cheshire-based charity which was set up three years ago by mums with first-hand experience of postnatal depression, has published a new awareness video and website following grant funding from the Cheshire Community Foundation.

Established by mums Natalie Nuttall and Ruth Eglin, who felt there was a gap in support at a community level, The SMILE Group now operates weekly peer support sessions in Macclesfield and Congleton.

The group has helped hundreds of parents through the experience of dealing with postnatal depression and recently secured £5,000 to further its work.

Cheshire Community Foundation, an organisation which inspires local philanthropy, builds local endowment and encourages financial investment at grass roots organisations.

The SMILE Group has used some of this funding to create a video featuring real life stories as well as advice from a perinatal specialist, and it includes reassurance that, with the right support, those experiencing postnatal depression can get better.

NHS statistics suggest that at least 1 in 7 people are affected by PND to some degree and evidence shows that peer support can contribute to recovery.

The team of four mums who run The SMILE Group worked with video production company to provide an honest portrayal, featuring first-hand accounts and footage of parents in a peer support group setting.

The mums say they each felt passionate about sharing their stories and chose to feature their children at the end of the video as a poignant reminder to others that, in the thick of PND, you can overcome it and still experience the joy of motherhood.

The video was officially launched at a cinema preview screening hosted by The Park Tavern in Macclesfield and was attended by senior health professionals, politicians and families who have supported The SMILE Group.

Natalie Nuttall, Chair of The SMILE Group, said: “We all feel really strongly that real-life stories are a powerful means of raising awareness of PND and educating people about symptoms and where to get help.

“We’ve found that parents can relate to us because we have first-hand experience and we understand what they are going through, though we want to emphasise the fact that everyone’s story is different.

“We’re hoping that the video will be used by health professionals in ante and postnatal sessions, and it will be accessible to the wider world via our new website.”

She added: “It was a really emotional experience filming it but we’re all incredibly proud of the result and hope it helps other families through a difficult time.”

Helen O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Cheshire Community Foundation, said: “The Foundation has been really impressed by the work of The SMILE Group and wanted to offer support to ensure that people affected by Post Natal Depression could access the valuable peer support being provided.”

Helen added that she felt the team at The SMILE Group are “responding appropriately to parents in distress, using their own experiences to help others and are developing good relationships with health professionals in the local community.

“Their support really is making a difference to local people’s lives and I am delighted that the DVD that they have produced will raise awareness and improve understanding of what can be a can be a debilitating and isolating illness.”

The SMILE Group peer support sessions run: Wednesdays (10am-12 noon) at Congleton Children’s Centre and on Fridays (10am-12 noon) at Hurdsfield Children’s Centre.

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