Cheshire charity, The SMILE Group, has been listed in a national perinatal mental health toolkit launched by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
The one-stop hub of resources has been designed to support GPs in providing high quality care to patients affected by perinatal mental illness, which affects up to two in every 10 women during pregnancy and the first year of their baby’s life.
The SMILE Group is listed twice in the toolkit and has been recognised by RCGP for its self-help techniques as well as its peer support resource, which operates on a weekly basis out of children’s centres in Macclesfield and Congleton.
Set up in 2011 by Natalie Nuttall and Ruth Eglin, who both had personal experience of postnatal anxiety and depression, The SMILE Group provides consistent peer support for families in East Cheshire who are struggling to cope with the impact of perinatal mental illness.
Many parents go under the radar when it comes to seeking help, which is compounded by the stigma of perinatal mental illness. This can often make people feel incredibly guilty when they are expected to feel like it’s a happy occasion.
The charity has also produced a downloadable checklist for parents to complete before seeing a GP or health professional in order to enable them to articulate how they feel ahead of the appointment without being overwhelmed. By discreetly passing this to reception before the appointment it can enable the person to ask for the help and support they need without the stress of talking about it, which is a massive issue for many people.
Ruth Eglin, co-founder of The SMILE Group, comments: “I have just become a mum for the second time and, although it’s been a far more positive experience so far, it’s great to be able to benefit from the work SMILE has done and to know that help is at hand.
“Being part of the RCGP perinatal mental health toolkit is an incredible achievement for us as it’s a testament to the past five years that we have spent trying to provide a more joined-up and consistent support network in our local area for families who are struggling with PMI. The important message is that parents are not alone in their experience and help is at hand.”
The SMILE Group runs every Wednesday from 10-12 at Congleton Children’s Centre and every Friday from 10-12 at Hurdsfield Children’s Centre.
The downloadable checklist can be found at http://www.thesmilegroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/appointment-check-list1.pdf
For more information on the RCGP Perinatal Mental Health Toolkit visit: http://www.rcgp.org.uk/clinical-and-research/toolkits/perinatal-mental-health-toolkit.aspx