Mum-of-one Natalie Nuttall, 34, from Macclesfield, hit rock bottom when she developed postnatal depression after the birth of her son, Oscar, 2.
Now fully recovered, she has used her experience to set up The SMILE Group, a support group for mums who have full blown PND or are simply having a bad day.
She spoke to MFM about how you can establish your own group.
1. Keep going
When my friend Ruth and I decided to launch The SMILE Group in January 2010, there was never a question it would fail. You’ve got to really put your mind to it and believe it’ll happen.
2. Plan ahead
Before you start, think about what you want to achieve and what your deadlines are. It often helps to break it down into smaller, achievable objectives, for example: Attract 10 new members in the first three months. Keep track of your progress by writing it all down and referring back regularly.
3. Network like mad
We’ve made links with everyone from local councillors and the NHS, to celebrities and other local mums. Social media is great for this, so create a Twitter account and start interacting with like-minded people as well as influencers and public figures. Sometimes networking can even lead to funding from the council.
4. Get expert advice
Many parents coming along to a support group will be vulnerable. It’s good to recognise that although you can offer first-hand experiences (which are incredibly invaluable), also know your limits. We don’t profess to be medical experts but we are a signposting service for all the routes to access professional support. We also host our group in a children’s centre where health visitors and other trained professionals are on hand.
5. Market yourself
Part of your plan should involve how to spread the word about your group. Think about getting leaflets and posters printed, and visit your local paper to get your story out there. It all helps to raise awareness of your cause and attract new members.