On Friday 30th October we were privileged to take part in an event with a noble aim: Discuss and influence the direction of travel for the development of peer support for perinatal mental health in Scotland. It was chaired by Dr Cat Carver, Expert by Experience and Clare Thompson, Participation Officer, and attended by a group of 64 clinicians, funders, peer supporters, people with lived experience, policy-makers and third sector organisations.
This is the first in a series of blogs where we’ll be sharing experiences of perinatal peer support. Please contact email@example.com if you’d like to contribute.
We began the day with an interview with the Mental Health Minister, Clare Haughey, whose enthusiasm for supporting parents with their mental health shone through.
Jessica Moran then introduced her report: Peer Support in Perinatal Mental Health: Review of Evidence and Provision in Scotland. It is a great summary of the evidence with some fascinating case studies of projects in Scotland.
We then heard from Elaine Connell, who runs Blank Canvas, a creative peer support project in collaboration with Home Start Glasgow North and Lanarkshire. She emphasised that peer support is hugely rewarding work, with significant benefits including reduced isolation and enhanced wellbeing, a point backed up in Jessica’s review of the evidence.
Michelle Guthrie of the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Perinatal Mental Health Network then shared their model of collaboration and revealed the potential for collaboration within regions.
Roch Cantwell and Elaine Clark from the Perinatal Mental Health Network Scotland then shared their role profile for peer support worker, intended to be a guide for services. This was co-produced with the Experts by Experience Reference Group.
Harriet Waugh, Cat and Clare then took us through a number of recommendations which will inform a Scottish Government Action plan. Participants gave their perspectives and experiences in the chat bar. These comments were downloaded and will be analysed to inform the plan going forward.
Maternal Mental Health Scotland are very excited about the direction of travel for perinatal peer support in Scotland, and as many participants said, we can’t wait to see it develop. Here are a few of the top tweets on the hashtag #perinatalpeersupport.