Are you a new mum and find you are experiencing low mood, stress or anxiety? Singing could be a valuable tool in bolstering your mental health!
We spoke with Breathe Arts Health Research, a non-profit organisation, who are currently offering a free online singing programme called Melodies for Mums for new mothers who may be experiencing feelings of loneliness, isolation and anxiety. Mums who could have, or be at risk of having, post natal depression. Read on to find out more about the organisation and what they offer. Mental health matters, mamas!
Please introduce the organisation…
Breathe Arts Health Research started in 2012. Designing and delivering arts-in-healthcare programmes underpinned by scientific research that, improve health and wellbeing, promote workplace wellness, and offer unique training opportunities. Breathe’s innovative and artistic approach offer those we work with, a sense of empowerment, hope and creative fulfilment when they need it most.
In 2016, Imperial College and the Royal College of Music carried out a piece of research that scientifically proved that social singing groups can significantly reduce symptoms of post-natal depression or anxiety in new mums. In response to this research, and using a similar model and approach, Breathe Arts Health Research set up Melodies for Mums, and we’ve been able to help many new parents through difficult times over the last three years.
What classes or events do you offer?
We’re currently offering two different programmes in London. One specifically in the Greenwich, Bexley, and Bromley areas, starting on Monday 1st February via Zoom. The second programme will start Tuesday 16th February which is part of a bigger research study programme, open to women from across London.
Both programmes include an hour-long singing and music-making session weekly over 6 weeks. Each session is led by one of our talented music facilitators and open to any women who have recently had a baby in the last 9 months and are experiencing low mood, stress, or anxiety.
In addition to the singing sessions, the research study programme will include additional clinical screening with a clinician and some additional follow up. Anonymised information gathered will contribute to a wider study on the impact of singing on the mental & emotional health of new mothers and the baby.
Why is it important? How is it different to other mum-baby-music groups?
This isn’t your average mum and baby music group. Firstly, it is completely free, ensuring accessibility for women of all socio-economic backgrounds. Groups of 10 – 12 women are led by a trained musician and instead of popular nursery rhymes, women learn everything from folk songs and lullabies to gospel, in a range of languages making it a culturally inclusive environment. The songs explored are focused on creatively stimulating and challenging the women taking part, unusual for many mum and baby groups.
While the little ones will definitely get a lot out of the session, we’re specifically here to support mums. We want to offer mothers a joyful shared experience, that connects them to other women as well as their baby. There’s no need to share or go over anything that’s troubling you in the sessions. Just show up and get ready to sing!
How can a mum singing group improve mental and physical health?
Over 200 women have already taken part in Melodies for Mums. As well as really enjoying a good singsong, our mums tell us that the sessions have helped boost their confidence and self-esteem, lift their mood and supported them to make new connections with other mothers.
Findings from the Research have shown that the programme can lead to a 41% reduction in symptoms of PND and a recovery in 73% of mothers who took part. We also know that the sessions can help with bonding between mum and baby, offer resources for women to sing at home and can often help improve the wider family unit connection.
Does it benefit the babies too?
Absolutely, the singing and music during the classes provide tools for calming babies that help mothers feel more in control and capable. Many of our mothers have also told us that the sessions have improved their bond with their babies greatly. Mothers also feel confident and empowered to use songs learnt from Melodies for Mums at home, benefiting baby beyond our time with them.
How have you adjusted to lockdown and are the classes as beneficial?
As with everything in life, we’re having to do things a little differently at the moment, so instead of meeting up, our sessions are on Zoom. Yes, sessions are often more engaging when in person, but doing the sessions online increases the opportunity for mothers to get involved, as the location is not an issue. It also gives mothers who would ordinarily feel shy in group settings the freedom to join from the comfort of their own homes.
We try to make our online sessions as similar to our in-person ones as possible. The structure of a session remains the same, women learn the same songs and we leave plenty of time for women to chat and get to know each other too!
Any future plans you’d like to share?
Our long-term hope is that we can roll this out as a national programme that would be commissioned by the NHS as a new clinical service, so it’s not just seen as a nice, arty project that some mums might do, but as something underpinned by research showing it’s a very effective clinical treatment. That could mean some women with PND wouldn’t need to use other NHS services, saving it money in the long term. We hope we can continue to offer Melodies for Mums to many, many more women, from across the UK with this service when they need it most.
To find out more and/or to sign up follow the links below, or contact Mary on 07858 296855 or email firstname.lastname@example.org