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Table 1 Recommendations for future initiatives based on women’s desires – with quotes to demonstrate

From: A qualitative study of the impact of peer support on women’s mental health treatment experiences during the perinatal period

Bridge Gap/Peer Navigator  Peer Support Direct Mental Health Support
Peer Navigators to help mothers understand potential different mental health offers.   E.g. FG1/M5: “I don’t think what anyone should do is say ‘we’ll ditch these types of expensive support and use social media’, That wouldn’t replace face-to-face whatsoever, but I think that this is a channel that’s not being used as much as it could in support.”
Funding for children’s centers/local community parent-infant groups with regular peer support provision and occasional health visitor input. E.g. M6: “I used to go to the children’s centre but they don’t have that anymore, you don’t just drop in anymore – and obviously with cuts it’s gonna keep changing.”
Joint drop-in sessions with peer supporter and midwife or health visitor. E.g. FG2/M5: “There might be something you think I just need advice on, or something like a rash you might be worried about taking them to the doctors, or you’re wondering about how much they’re feeding, obviously we can only give advice on what we know ourselves, having a professional opinion would be quite nice.”
Ensuring healthcare professionals who are in contact with mothers are aware of local charities and resources – Effective and earlier signposting. E.g. M5: “No one really knows about it either so if there was someone needing help and like for me the professionals didn’t pick it up, they might not necessarily get the opportunity to go.”
FG4/M2: “You know just get this information so you’ve got it and you don’t, you might not necessarily need to use it after you’ve had your baby but at least you’ve got it in your house.”
This can be broken down to resources regularly updated and given to mothers at two different time points: booking the birth and delivery.
Similarly, advertising services in multiple locations such as GP bulletin boards and websites.
Groups more accessible to working mothers / mothers of toddlers and older children. E.g. M5: “So I think it would be better for it to be open for maybe toddlers as well like if people got toddlers because I don’t believe that post-natal always happens straight away.”
Out of term-time groups. E.g. FG3/M5: “I forgot that. As having a July baby.. there was nothing – it’s a big black hole.. I was just sort of getting confident to leave the house and suddenly there was nothing on, and you’re like ‘oh ok, now what you gonna do’.”
Specialised & regular monitoring of official peer support groups E.g. M3: “So I mean the Facebook group is helpful, it’s quite difficult because obviously there’s so many people in it and it can actually cause some problems, because you know as any kind of chat room or anything people can have like little arguments and stuff inside of it, people can say stuff that’s insensitive.”
Expanding support/offer of Third- Sector Organizations working in perinatal mental health E.g.: FG1/M1: “I don’t think (formal healthcare service) can - I don’t think they can cope with the amount of people who need the service right now.”
FG1/M5: I think it’s unanimously: more (third sector service)! More funding for (third sector service)!”
Ensuring facilitators are trained to cope with managing endings of groups and keeping a focus. E.g. M1: “I found it a really depressing and unhelpful group – the woman would only pick quite a loose focus and they were never focused.. quite often she would pick something that you could speak about negatively and all it really turned into was a group of women sat round talking about how rubbish stuff was.”