New creative project supports mums' mental health

New project encourages mums and mums-to-be to keep a creative journal to help their mental health and wellbeing

Maternal Journal is a new pilot project that is all about recording and exploring experiences, feelings and thoughts through writing, drawing, painting, collage, prose, poems, scrapbooking, sketch or any other visual technique mums or mums-to-be feel like using.

Journaling can be a powerful creative and therapeutic tool, as it can document a woman’s journey through pregnancy, birth and parenthood, as well as helping to record the highs and lows.

It can be a way of checking in on feelings and understanding the triggers of mental health issues.

The project was the brainchild of artist and midwife Laura Godfrey-Isaacs and Professor of Psychological Medicine at King’s College London, Carmine Pariante.

Coping creatively

It was targeted at women who had a history of depression and anxiety, but can be a useful tool for all mums and mums-to-be to help them cope at a time of great change in their lives.

Keeping a maternal journal has contributed to my continued mental stability.

One of the mums-to-be involved in the pilot said: ‘Keeping a maternal journal has been a very helpful and positive experience. I think it’s contributed to my continued mental stability.’

One in five women in the UK develop a mental health illness during pregnancy or after birth. And seven in 10 are hiding or underplaying the severity of their illness.

It’s vital we get people talking about maternal mental health.

The project has been successful in getting a grant from The Arts Council to set up a Maternal Journal website, which is set to be launched in May. The team behind it hope that one day it can be integrated into routine NHS care for pregnant women and new mums.

Lead image by artist Amy Dignam, Maternal Journal 2017

More information

Read about Maternal Journal

Read about NCT’s Hidden Half campaign on mental health

Read about how you might be feeling after baby is born

Follow Laura Godfrey-Isaacs on Twitter