Case Study: Creative Minds

Authors(s), Creator(s) and Contributors: Jessica Doyle - Caffi Isa CIC

Publication Date: 16/01/2024

Categories: Case Studies

Partner(s): North East Wales Mind Eleni New Sinphonia Freelancers: Eve Kellehar, Paula Pollit, Honor Pedican

Funder(s): ACW


The project was aimed at new parents, particularly women who may had been suffering from some mental health difficulties, such as post-natal depression, anxiety or are experiencing loneliness/feeling isolated. The aim was to foster creativity as a means to promote wellbeing, tackle isolation and to help combat loss of identity. The programme featured sessions includes storytelling and poetry workshops, art, craft. We also intended to include some provision for childcare, to help break down barriers to access. We worked with organisations and professional freelance creatives. We are also working with our partner NEWMind, who are providing expert advise and where well placed to refer beneficiaries.

The Challenge

Early parenthood is an very challenging time. As many as 10% of new mothers experience postnatal depression. This debilitating condition can have a knock-on effect on those around a new parent, including children and partners. In the wake of covid, where mental health difficulties are especially prevalent, with many suffering from isolation and bereavement, it was especially important to provide robust support services in our communities. The benefits of creativity on mental wellbeing are well documented, as are companionship and peer support and the boast to self-esteem that comes from group activities and regular support.

The Approach

The project underwent a review and significant changes during the course of the scheme. Our initial focus on the parents shifted in response to early feedback. Many young parents told us that they were keen to engage in creative activity with their young children and felt more comfortable with less focus on themselves. We therefore changed our schedule so that families could attend together. The shift in focus resulted in a huge increase in attendance. We worked with New Sinfonia, who facilitated two excellent musical sing o long events that both parents and babies thoroughly enjoyed. We worked with Eleni, who facilitated two excellent creative movement workshops for parents and young children to do together, these were very successful. We also worked with a number of local freelancers who provided workshops and sessions in arts, craft and storytelling.

The Impact

It took us some time to find a suitable method of evaluation for this project. Initially, I meet with course leaders from Glyndwr University's MA in Arts and Health. I also consulted our project partners North East Wales Mind. During the course of the programme, it became apparent that beneficiaries were wary of a focus on their mental health. Armed with this feedback, we conferred with NEWMind and produced an informal feedback form based a system that they use in their wellbeing sessions. The system uses a maximum of five open questions that are designed to encourage the beneficiary to open up and share their thoughts. Our findings were that parents benefited from the scheme, enjoyed the chance to create with babies and access peer support. Comments include: 'As a parent working full time, a workshop on the weekend was a great way to connect with our son and interact with other parents' 'Lovely to attend activities with someone else taking the lead, a great chance to chat to others in a relaxed environment' 'It was nice to do an activity with my little one that we haven't done before and meeting other parents'

Lessons Learned

Early feedback indicated that parents were uncomfortable with a focus on their own mental health and where much happier to participate in creative activities with their babies/young children. Assisting with wellbeing and support became more informal as a result, with an emphasis on peer support and signposting (referring to parner - NEWMind) where appropriate. We designed a feedback form that felt non-intrusive in view of what we had learnt. We also changed to weekend sessions for working parents.

The Legacy

We have received a lot of feedback stating that parents really appreciated the opportunity to create with baby, that they found the peer support and relaxed environment invaluable. It is our hope to make similar activities a regular part of our programme. One participant said: 'I went back to work recently and most baby groups are on weekdays so I rarely get the chance to meet other mums. Just the chance to socialise and meet other parents has made a huge difference. Trying something new and being creative with my daughter has been great fun.

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Contact Details

Jess Doyle -

Tags: Wellbeing Mental Health postpartum depression parents motherhood Art creative wellbeing, dance, music, song, craft

Creative Minds