A peer support group for parents with postnatal depression has invited others to talk to them.
After providing a service in Horsham for just over one year and building a membership of 40 mothers, Kate Mayo, 34, co-founder of the peer support group, wants to reach out to more people.
Kate set up the group after she was diagnosed with postnatal depression and found she could not get ongoing support after she had completed her treatment.
Kate said she became depressed as soon as she gave birth to her son Erik in September 2010.
She said: “I couldn’t cope with anything.
“I was crying all the time. Just taking him for a walk I was constantly crying.
“You just feel like you can’t cope with anything.”
After suffering for seven months, Kate was given anti-depressants and a six week course of counselling.
She said she felt better within two weeks of the treatment but she didn’t feel ‘well’ until one year ago, when Erik was two and a half years old.
“It takes a long time and that’s the worst thing about it,” she said, “I tried to get more help through the family centre but you’re kind of on your own after that.”
Kate said the peer support group provided a safe place to talk about thoughts and feelings without worrying about being judged.
She said: “You rely on your friends and family which is why I set up the group, so I could talk to other people and not pull my family down with it.
“Lots of people in the group haven’t even told their family and friends. People are ashamed and worry that people won’t understand.
“It’s helped me hugely. It’s helped my relationship with my husband because if I’m having a bad time I can talk about it with someone else other than him.
“It’s a safe place where you can say anything you like and not be pitied.”
The group, which is affiliate to PANDAS foundation and is open to fathers as well as mothers, offers six meeting dates a month so they can join whichever they are able to attend.
They meet at family centres, leisure centres, playgrounds and other such places with their children.
They also meet up without their children for dinner and drinks.
Kate said it was important for people with postnatal depression to make time for themselves and to go out with friends.
She said: “One of the reasons for depression is people feel like they’re losing themselves.
“It’s important to feel like the person you were before you got ill.”
To find out more visit www.horshampndsupport.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org