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Art therapy helps reduce anxiety in pregnancy

01 May 2019

Preparing to have a baby is one of the most wonderful things, but can also bring with it a natural anxiety for many mums-to-be. Two in ten women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the first year following birth.

Preparing to have a baby is one of the most wonderful things, but can also bring with it a natural anxiety for many mums-to-be. Two in ten women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the first year following birth. Our West Middlesex maternity team has been supporting World Maternal Mental Health Day this week by running art therapy sessions in partnership with local creative organisations Collective Arts and Art and Soul. Art therapy has long been proven to relieve stress and improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. The teams use creative activities to support the emotional and mental wellbeing of people living in South West London. 

We ran our first session on 29 April with 15 pregnant women attending. Women were asked to write down how they felt before and after the workshop. Before the session, most of the women expressed anxiety about birth, but were excited be part of the sessions with other pregnant women. After exploring their own artistic talents in a therapeutic environment, all commented on how the session allowed them to express their feelings through art, along with using art as a method to organise their anticipated worries.

Midwives Louise Page, Louise Nunn, Louisa Jacklyn and project lead Andrea Taylor run the Perinatal Mental Health project at the Trust, funded by Health Education England, to promote the wellbeing of pregnant women.

Louise Nunn said: “The morning was a wonderfully positive event and quite emotional for some of the mothers in the way that a seemingly simple intervention—spending time creating paintings together—was, in fact, a truly transformative experience for them. The workshop surpassed all our expectations and the overwhelmingly positive feedback speaks for itself.”

The session coincided with ‘UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week’ #maternalmhmatters which runs 29 April–5 May and is organised by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership (PMHP). They have been staging events all week including a #pndhour each night at 8pm during the week on Twitter where a different aspect of perinatal mental illness will be discussed.

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Please note: The Lakeside Mental Health Unit is run by West London Mental Health Trust—for media enquiries relating to the unit please call 020 8354 8737.