Perinatal Mental Health: Peer Support Principles

What is this study?

Comic Relief and the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) commissioned Mind and the McPin Foundation to develop a set of guidelines to help people and organisations providing peer support to new mums. The guidelines – or principles – should give people the knowledge and confidence to provide support that is safe, inclusive and helpful.

The work builds on our previous work on peer support principles developed through the evaluation of the Side by Side project.

Why is this research important?

Access to peer support is an important aspect of recovery for many women experiencing mental health difficulties during pregnancy and after giving birth. The principles aim to assure the quality and consistency of online and face to face peer support in perinatal mental health. They are a key part of wider work to ensure that peer support in perinatal mental health is:

  • Safe for women and babies
  • Accessible to all and inclusive
  • High quality and evidence-based
  • Trusted by clinical services
  • Measuring and demonstrating outcomes and achieving maximum impact.

How are McPin involved?

We conducted qualitative research with women engaging in maternal mental health peer support, organisations facilitating peer support, and other stakeholders with an interest in maternal mental health. Together with Mind, we ran a series of consultation events across England where we tested draft versions of the quality assurance principles.

How are people with experience of maternal mental health problems involved in the research?

Three women with experience of maternal mental health problems were recruited as Lived Experience Facilitators. They have been involved in co-designing and running the consultation events. They designed and conducted focus groups with women who have used maternal mental health peer support and contributed to the data analysis. They led on the dissemination of the project.

Read a blog by Laura Wood, one of the Lived Experience Facilitators, here.

What is the current status of the project?

This project is now finished. The principles were launched at Peer Fest, Mind’s annual meeting about peer support, in autumn 2019. 

You can download the project report here: 

Check out the project page on the Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s website for the principles themselves and a booklet that explains how to use them.

Who do I contact for more information?

If you have questions about the project, please email .

Please contact Dan Robotham by email for more information about McPin’s involvement.