Home-Start Essex wins £35,000 for research project to improve mental health services for parents

The charity will research mental health support for new and expectant parents. Picture: KATIE COLLIN

The charity will research mental health support for new and expectant parents. Picture: KATIE COLLINS/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

An Essex charity has received £35,000 for a research project to improve services for new or expectant parents affected by mental health problems.

Dr David Sollis, chief executive of Healthwatch Essex. Picture: HEALTHWATCH ESSEX

Dr David Sollis, chief executive of Healthwatch Essex. Picture: HEALTHWATCH ESSEX - Credit: HEALTHWATCH ESSEX

Home-Start Essex will use the cash over the next three years to assess the current advice and guidance on offer in the county for struggling mothers and fathers.

The charity will recruit and train parents with lived experience to help carry out the research, with the aim of developing better perinatal and postnatal mental health support.

The money has come from the Healthwatch Essex Fund.

The fund, which is administered by Essex Community Foundation, was set up in 2016 and to date has distributed more than £200,000 to support the work of voluntary and community organisations working across the county.


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Amie Craven, development manager at Home-Start Essex, said: “We have seen an increasing demand for our services and are delighted to receive this support from the Healthwatch Essex Fund.

“Caring for children, particularly if you are a new mum, is not always easy and can, at times, be very stressful. Most parents can recall days when they would have liked to chat things through with a friend or to have someone to provide that extra pair of hands. Home-Start volunteers, who are mostly parents themselves, understand that need and are available to offer help.”

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She added: “Empowering parents who have accessed peri/postnatal services themselves, is vital to assessing how they can be improved. No-one should feel that they are alone and appropriate information, advice and guidance needs to be accessible, meaningful and useful.”

Home-Start Essex also works with families who are struggling with physical health problems, bereavement, isolation and many other issues. This support is delivered through volunteer home-visiting, peer group support, targeted programmes and counselling.

David Sollis, chief executive at Healthwatch Essex, said: “One of our key roles is to provide first-class signposting and information services for the public. Through this funding our aim is to reach every parent in the county affected by peri/postnatal mental health, so they can share their experiences of accessing local health and care to ultimately help shape future support services. We are proud to be supporting this critical piece of work.”

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