A message for the festive season from our Young Mums Connect project manager, Jayde Edwards.
Like most of us, you may have experienced the pressure of having to ‘put on a happy face’, either for a loved one or because an occasion, such as Christmas, demanded it. If so, you’ll know how tiring it is to keep up the façade. And if you’ve just had a baby, it’s even more exhausting.
While becoming a mum is a joyful experience, it can be isolating too – especially for young mums. In fact, almost half (49%) of young mums say they are often or always lonely.
When we’re feeling isolated or cut off from the world, problems such as anxiety and depression can really take hold. It’s also when the Mental Health Foundation’s work can prove to be most life-changing.
My name is Jayde, and I’m the Programme Manager of Young Mums Connect, a peer-support project for young women (aged 25 and under) and their children.
We bring mums together to share their experiences, to raise awareness of the mental health issues they may be facing, and to introduce them to the coping strategies and extra help that’s available, should they need it.
One young mum's personal story
To show how much this matters, I’d like to share the experiences of just one mum, who gave birth to her son when she was just 15.
As well as coping with a new baby, this young woman spent the first two years of her son’s life in insecure housing. In that period, she was moved eight times by her local council and struggled both with an abusive relationship and her mental health.
I know she wishes that a service like Young Mums Connect had been available to her. In fact, I’m certain, because that 15-year-old was me.
I was lucky. I found support in my community and this empowered and encouraged me to help others in a similar situation. In fact, I believe that when you have experienced something - either negative or positive - you are ideally placed to create the pathway or light for others.
So, I applied to work for the Mental Health Foundation and now I’m helping other young mums to access the kind of support that I know will enhance their lives and give their children the very best start.
Supporting our Lighting the Way festive appeal this year will help us carry on supporting families through programmes such as Young Mums Connect.
Your gift will show people that however isolated they feel they are not alone, that our door is always open, and that a brighter future can lie ahead.
How our work supports young mums
Many of the women who join our peer support groups feel stigmatised because of their age; that they are seen as ‘a bad parent’ when all they want is to provide the best support and future for their child, like any mum. This can be a barrier to them accessing help. Yet Young Mums Connect creates such a welcoming and non-judgmental atmosphere that bonds quickly form and self-belief starts to grow - along with hope and aspiration for the future.
It’s inspiring work and it’s essential too. Because the mental health risks these women face are substantial.
Mental health difficulties are common before and after birth, yet they often go undetected. That’s why we must continue to support these women and all those whose mental health problems would otherwise be overlooked or left to grow.
When we say we want ‘good mental health for all’ we mean it. This includes those who are most deprived of the opportunity to achieve it, such as asylum seekers, people facing poverty and racism, and those who’ve experienced childhood trauma. That’s why we’ll continue to press for government policies aimed at closing the inequalities gap – so that no one is left behind.
Together we can show people who are struggling that a brighter future lies ahead.
Thank you so much.
How your gift helps young families
We know that when a parent’s mental health problems are left untreated, this can affect their long-term wellbeing – and that of their children. That’s why we offer a variety of programmes, to support the mental health and wellbeing of families, children, and young people.