Fund & Grant News
6 Dec 2020
Comic Relief, Global Health Matters through the Community Foundation have awarded £5,000 to We Are Pangs, a perinatal mental health charity in NI. The groups will use the funding to develop a peer to peer programme for mothers seeking support.
We Are Pangs Ltd started in 2014 when Belfast mum Michelle Bradley went looking for an online support group to help with postnatal mental illness in Northern Ireland and couldn’t find anything. She started a Facebook support group to reach out to other mothers experiencing the same illness, which now has hundreds of members.
Michelle says “We Are Pangs recognises the lack of understanding amongst both parents and health professionals as to what perinatal mental illness constitutes, what services are available, what treatments are available and what sources of support can be referred to.”
“With perinatal mental illness being a very taboo subject, those suffering often suffer in silence or are afraid to speak up due to shame and insecurity about what actions will follow. Many parents are afraid that if they admit they are struggling, social services will be involved and risk removing their children from their care. This leads to desperate isolation and loneliness.”
We Are Pangs have a growing group of mothers with lived experience who are keen to get involved and use their experiences to help others in their situation to feel less isolated and alone, and to improve services in the community and within the health service. This empowerment to advocate for change helps to give meaning to the struggle that they have been through and recognise that they can use it as a driving force for good.
These parents are trained as peer support leaders so that they can host their own support groups in the community, bridging a huge gap for parents who are left without any support. These support groups are the core work of the charity, building a strong network of supporters for those struggling with their mental health. Helping to normalise perinatal mental illness and break some of the stigma associated with this.
We Are Pangs are not only a network of support for mothers but they have been campaigning local government alongside others to seek investment and improve the number and quality of services available to new parents with mental illness. This group has experienced first hand and are very aware of the need for new and effective policies for perinatal mental health to ensure no parent is left without support or treatment.
As a result of Covid19, We Are Pangs awarded £50 food vouchers to families in need. Recognising that school closures and potential loss of income can have a huge impact on families, daily videos on social media are posted highlighting the difficulties of isolation, working from home, homeschooling and trying to stay calm. Projecting real-life scenarios in this challenging time provides reassurance that there is no perfect way to get through this. You can find daily videos here.