In 2012 we developed a partnership with a local Children's Centre to create a peer-to-peer young parents programme in East London. The project focuses specifically on supporting young parents with mental health issues and uses youth-led education to address topics relevant to young parents, including social support, physical activity, wellbeing, emotional support, play, stigma and stereotypes.
The Young Parents’ Group was started in order to address the risk factors associated with early pregnancy, most notably the increased likelihood of depressive illness in young mothers (who were the main target group). Developing a peer support group has the dual benefits of reducing feelings of loneliness and providing parenting advice in a welcoming environment, which in turn impacts positively on the wellbeing of the children involved.
The primary aim of this project is to support young mothers in the community, encouraging them to connect with a network of other young mums and mental health professionals to raise their awareness of mental health issues and the relevant support available.
At the start of the project, the participants (all of whom were female) opted to rename the group the ‘Young Mums Project’, but over time several young fathers have also attended, benefitting from support with mental health issues and general parenting advice.
Over thirty young parents from different backgrounds have attended sessions so far, taking part in child-centred craft activities and discussions on current affairs relevant to parenting and mental health issues.
Following the completion of the pilot project, we produced the Young Mums Together Guide, offering practical advice for people who would like to set up their own groups.
Also available is the Young Mums Together Report, which provides a full analysis of the project.