Diverse Mums' Group: Breaking down barriers and supporting each other in a pandemic

The second in a series of stories we’ll be sharing to look back at the achievements of our staff and teams during the Covid 19 pandemic.

For many of us, the past year will have been one of the most challenging we’ve faced in our lifetimes. Both our personal and professional lives have been turned upside down and we’ve had to deal with a huge amount of change, loss, and uncertainty.

But time and time again, our people have responded with resilience, flexibility and bravery, rising to many different demands and challenges.

As restrictions ease and we look forward to brighter days ahead, we want to share the incredible efforts of our teams, services, and staff, who have either stepped out of their comfort zones to keep things going, or continued to do their day job in much harder circumstances, to enable us to keep being there for those who need us most.

Throughout a summer of celebration, we intend to shine a light on their ongoing successes, and the big and little things they’ve done, and continue to do, to make life a bit easier for service users and colleagues. 

This doesn’t mean we’ll forget the challenges we’ve faced or those we’ve lost.

But it’s also a reminder of what we can continue to achieve, together.

In September 2020, the Diverse Mums’ Group launched within our Perinatal Mental Health Service to create a safe space for pregnant women and new mums from diverse ethnic backgrounds to talk about their mental health and share cultural experiences.

The group was set up during the pandemic following feedback from our service users, who wanted to support one another, while challenging inequality and breaking down barriers. They expressed a need for a unique support group, sharing a recognition of difference in relation to mums from a white background or other ethnic groups. Its aim was to provide culturally specific support to meet their needs, taking into account their race, ethnicity and culture.

At a time when many were feeling increasingly isolated, the group has been praised for the help and support it’s offered to mums in need.

Bal Dosanjh, Clinical Engagement, Access and Inclusion Coordinator for the Perinatal Mental Health Service, was instrumental in getting the group up and running. She said: “Being a mum can be difficult, but coping with a perinatal illness can be twice as hard.

“Our Diverse Mums’ Group allows us to uplift one another and embrace these difficulties together. We choose to celebrate women’s achievements, challenge inequality, call out biased behaviours, question stereotypes, break down barriers, and help create an inclusive culture where diversity is key and representation matters.”

The sessions, which have been running virtually throughout the pandemic, are co-facilitated by a mum who has previously used our services and understands first-hand what it’s like to experience a perinatal mental illness.

As well as providing a forum for open discussion, the meetings follow a theme with a guest speaker. Previous sessions have focused on Ramadan, meditation, playing with your baby, and physical and mental health and wellbeing. Members of the group choose the topics covered and attendees have been able to replicate elements of the group outside the sessions by establishing social WhatsApp groups.

Initially, the group ran on a fortnightly basis over six weeks. However, it was so well received that those involved asked for sessions to be held more frequently and for a longer period.

Feedback concluded that women feel empowered after attending the group, which builds their confidence and self-esteem. As a result, many have gone on to speak about their experiences publicly, to help others. This has included reaching out to under-represented communities in their native language to raise awareness of perinatal mental health via radio broadcasts.

What our mums had to say… 

Find out more

In March 2021, members of our Diverse Mums’ Group recorded a podcast for International Women’s Day. In the podcast, they speak openly about their experiences of the group and the difference it’s made in their lives during a particularly difficult time. You can listen to the podcast in full below.