Weaving a new Story is a project investigating how mindful textile work can support mothers with postnatal depression. A collaboration between Clinical Psychologist Dr Tamara Russell from King’s College London’s Department of Neuroimaging and textile artist and psychologist Liz Finegold, it is supported by the Cultural Institute at King’s, Cocoon Family Support and the Mindfulness Centre of Excellence.
The Gift (below) represents the personal journey that enabled Liz Finegold to find balance and well-being after she experienced post-natal depression following the birth of her daughter. Using mindfulness, textiles, sewing and self-management tools she was able to regain her sense of self and re-connect to her passion to help others so they don’t have to go through the same experience. Liz teamed up with Dr Tamara Russell who provided expertise in creative co-design of mindfulness programs.
Working with Cocoon Family Support, 7 mums who were experiencing moderate to severe post-natal depression were recruited for the pilot study. They particiapted in a 10-week course of mindfulness and textiles and learned the importance of self-compassion and creativity and found a sense of community. Critically, they also learned to accept that it was okay to make mistakes when sewing and being creative and that the same lessons apply to being a mother.
Using a neurocognitive foundation to maximise the opportunities for these mums to train the neural networks needed to help them combat low mood, rumination and judgement, the creative work was harnessed for maximum therapeutic effect.
Each of the mums contributed personalised squares to a quilt which became part of an art show for family and friends at King’s College. The quilt will be further displayed at a variety of venues in the coming months, including Atrium 1 of Guy’s Hospital (London, UK) from January to June 2017.
How you can help:
This work showcases what is possible when creativity and science are blended and when individuals with real courage stand up and share their stories and their passion with others.
We believe this creative mindfulness intervention has the capacity to support mums in any stage of their parenting journey. We are now seeking partners who can:
- help us to promote this way of working more widely and disseminate the learning
- provide opportunities to further investigate the efficacy in a larger sample.
Please look at our videos on the Mindfulness Centre of Excellence YouTube channel:
Our work has also been shared via two blogs on the Clinical Partners Website:
Two Masters students from King’s College London gathered quantitative and qualitative data from the group of 7 mums with post-natal depression.
The graph below provides data on each mum and shows that all of them reduced their depression scores, some quite significantly. A non-parametric test showed a significant decrease with the average post score lying just below the clinical cut-off for PND (Pre mean 18.86 (SD 3.7); Post mean 10.71 (SD 4.19); p<0.01). Further questionnaires and the post training qualitative interviews are currently being analysed (available post August 2017).
Acknowledgements: We are grateful for the support provided by Barny Guthrie at Clinical Partners, the research team (Abi Alfrey and Faye Macis), Donna Grant and the staff at In-Spire Community Hub, and of course, the brave and awesome mums who showed up every week and had the courage to take this journey. Thanks to Imogen Gray and the Guys and St Thomas’ Charity for their guidance and funding for the Atrium show.