By: 6 July 2023
Singing for perinatal mental health six month pilot to launch in Merseyside this July

Could a digital ‘at home’ singing course improve perinatal mental health outcomes and address health inequalities? A pilot project on Merseyside headed up by a singing nurse is going to find out.

At Home With Singing Mamas, an ‘on prescription’, online singing programme for perinatal women will launch at World Museum Liverpool on Thursday 27 July 2023. There will also be an online launch on Tuesday 25 July.

Supported by Arts Council England and Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, the pilot will evaluate whether participation in regular guided singing sessions at home can improve maternal mental health outcomes. It will run for six months from August 2023-January 2024.

Over the six weeks of the programme, which can be accessed on any device in participants’ own time, women will be encouraged to learn and practice six simple, short songs. The programme has been developed by national not-for-profit arts and health organisation Singing Mamas.

Mums Katy, Grace, Megan and Jodie feature in every episode and can be seen learning the songs alongside their babies Raya, Sophia, River and Rohan. Led by three diverse singing leaders, the tracks include soothing lullabies and songs with uplifting lyrics.

The project aims to engage 360 women from across Merseyside over six months.

Singing Mamas has previously worked in Merseyside in a face-to-face capacity. From September 2021-February 2022, the organisation piloted an ‘on prescription’ project in Liverpool and Knowsley, funded by Cheshire and Merseyside Women and Children’s Services.

The idea to develop an online programme that can be accessed at home came about after the Covid lockdowns. When Singing Mamas founder and registered nurse Kate Valentine realised that going digital was breaking down access barriers for women who had been unable to attend face-to-face sessions, she approached Arts Council England to fund a pilot.

She said: “When Covid hit and the UK first experienced lockdown, we knew we had to find a way to still sing together.

“We explored online singing for the first time and were delighted to discover that it could have many of the same wellbeing benefits of singing together in person.”

Rachel Waite, a Liverpool-based singing leader with Singing Mamas is leading on the At Home With Singing Mamas project. She said: “I have been developing and delivering in person Singing Mamas on prescription programmes in the Liverpool region for the last couple of years.

“As exciting as it is to all be in the same room together, in person delivery also comes with barriers.

“We hope that by developing a universal and evergreen digital offer we can have an ongoing presence across Merseyside and reach women who are not able to otherwise engage for a number of reasons including their other caring responsibilities, access needs, the severity of their mental health issues or financial restrictions.

“Our hope is that through this pilot programme, we will greatly increase the social prescribing referrals to Singing Mamas in Merseyside, increasing participants’ confidence in singing for themselves and their babies, and improving their wellbeing.

“Ultimately, we want every pregnant person or new parent in the UK who is facing mental health challenges to have access to the proven health and wellbeing benefits of being part of a harmony singing-based community.”

Rosie Perkins, professor of music, health and social science at Royal College of Music, has been a consultant on the project. She said: “Pregnancy and being a new parent can be exciting; it can be full of joy and happiness, but it also can be a time of exhaustion, sleepless nights and challenges along the way.

“There is increasing evidence that music might be a way to cope with those moments.

“This project offers an opportunity to contribute to the body of evidence by inviting women to tell us what they think about the programme – building an important evidence base about how music can support people during the perinatal period.”

Singing Mamas was established in 2010 by registered nurse Kate Valentine and 49 face-to-face groups now run UK-wide.

The At Home With Singing Mamas online programme has been developed with the support of an advisory panel made up of GPs, midwives, social prescribers, and mums with lived experience, including Dr Ruth Oshikanlu MBE an award-winning nurse, midwife and health visitor.

Post-launch, health professionals on Merseyside will receive a sign up link that they can share with perinatal women.

 

Online launch Tuesday 25 July 2-2.30pm https://www.eventbrite.com/e/live-online-launch-at-home-with-singing-mamas-tickets-663078163637

In person launch Thursday 27 July 1-3pm at World Museum Liverpool https://www.eventbrite.com/e/live-in-person-launch-at-home-with-singing-mamas-tickets-663059768617

Information packs and leaflets are available from rachel@singingmamas.org / 07747446048

 

About Singing Mamas

Singing Mamas is a network of nurses, midwives, doctors and arts & health professionals delivering an evidence-based approach in singing for health. Services are delivered on both a self-funded and commissioned basis, including singing on-prescription services to women most in need.

Singing Mamas was started by nurse Kate Valentine in 2010. At the time, Kate was a mother of young children and singing in a group was how she managed stress, and found connection and joy. When her family relocated to a new area she couldn’t find a choir where her children would be welcome, and like many mothers didn’t have the option of going without them. A friend persuaded her to start a singing group where mothers could bring their little ones and Singing Mamas was born.

Since 2010, Kate has trained over 100 women to deliver Singing Mamas sessions.